COMPASS seminars 2009

Primary Care in an Ageing Society (PCASo): An update on developing a microsimulation model for policy purposes

10 February 2009
Some of the PCASo team were down in Wellington for our NZSSN Introductory Analysis of Linked Data course, and while there took the opportunity to give another progress update on the simulation.

Data Saving and Sharing in a Digital Age: Issues and implications

Martin von Randow
11 February 2009
We continue to spread the word about our New Zealand Social Science Data Service, where we have so far 20 data sets archived and 30 registered users. New data sets are always welcome, and we are in the process of expanding our holdings via contacts.

Development and Uses of a Health Data Linkage System in Western Australia

Professor D’Arcy Holman
12 February 2009
While Professor Holman was in Wellington, teaching the course for NZSSN, he also took the opportunity to present in short form to some other interested parties.

The Institute for Social Science Research, University of Queensland

Professor Mark Western
16 February 2009
The Institute for Social Science Research encourages collaboration among social scientists across the University of Queensland and provides a unified and strong profile to end users in both government and the private sector. It brings together social scientists in an environment where new insights in social science knowledge and application can be readily achieved. Professor Mark Western visited COMPASS to present on the experiences of ISSR in growing beyond the Centre concept, a possibility for the future of COMPASS itself.

Improving Patient Safety: Establishing the Western Australian audit of surgical mortality as a population-based quality assurance initiative

Professor James Semmens
19 March 2009
Professor James Semmens is Director of the Centre for Population Health Research (CPHR) at Curtin University in Western Australia. He is also the Project Director of the WA Safety and Quality of Surgical Care Project. In 2008, he was awarded The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons Medal for contribution to surgery in Australia.

The quality and safety of health care is now a major health issue. There is an increasing international demand for systematic, evidence-based medicine, underpinned by clinical audit to continually appraise its application. The Western Australian Audit of Surgical Mortality (WAASM) was established within the WA Safety and Quality of Surgical Care Project in 2000. The aim of WAASM is to independently review all deaths in Western Australia that occur after surgery or whilst in hospital under the care of a surgeon. In the audit model, hospitals notify the WAASM of surgically related deaths.

Feedback of results focuses on individual surgeons, hospital governance units, health policy makers and consumers. Surgeons in Western Australia have demonstrated that systematic external peer review audit can be established in Australia and that the audit model has changed and improved clinical practice. After a decade, we have an opportunity to review the audit process, appreciate its strengths and discuss areas where improvements could be made.

An Analysis of the Impact of the Availability of NCEA Standards Upon Success at Achieving University Entrance

Rolf Turner
1 May 2009
The study described was undertaken by the Starpath Project at the University of Auckland. As explained by the presenter:

I will commence my talk by giving a brief introduction to the Starpath Project; what it is and why and when it was set up. I will also describe my role in Starpath and some of the problems, difficulties, and traps for young players that have confronted me as I have found my feet in this new (to me) milieu.

Having set the scene I will discuss what I consider to be the main piece of work that I have produced since joining Starpath. In the process of trolling through the national NCEA data shortly after commencing work with Starpath, I discovered that the number of Level 3 standards attempted by Māori and Pacific students is on average substantially lower than the number attempted by Pākeha and Asian students. This is particularly true of standards from the Approved List of subjects, and appears to have a substantial adverse impact on the chances of Māori and Pacific students’ achieving University Entrance.

My colleagues and I undertook a study to investigate whether the deficit in the number of standards attempted by Māori and Pacific students is due, at least in part, to the availability (or lack thereof) of standards at schools attended by the majority of these students. Analysis of the data obtained indicates that there is minimal impact of the number of standards available upon the number of standards attempted.

However there is striking evidence that student performance is influenced by (or at least, is related to) the availability of standards. Logistic models for success at achieving UE in terms of various possible predictors reveal intricate relationships between performance, availability of standards, and ethnicity. These relationships will be depicted graphically. The main conclusion of this work is that there appears to be convincing evidence that Māori and Pacific students who, by a certain measure have moderately high academic potential, would be more likely to achieve success if more standards were available to them.

Exploratory visualisation and discovery: finding demographic patterns in complex datasets

Professor Mark Gahegan
22 May 2009
Mark talked about techniques for visualisation of data with numerous examples from his work and numerous GIS-style graphics of trends across New Zealand.

Working notes on multivariate analyses of trends in social structure, wellbeing & their interrelationships
Professor Charles Crothers
Charles presented on his views on the overall theoretical structure of the overtime wellbeing study, and particularly reported on several analytical components of this: multivariate analysis of relationships amongst the wellbeing indicators and multivariate analysis (over time) of relationships between (selected) social background characteristics and (selected) wellbeing indicators.

Charles Crothers is Professor of Sociology at the Institute for Public Policy in the Faculty of Arts at AUT University. He previously served as a Professor of Sociology at the University of Natal, Durbin, South Africa. Prior to this position Charles was president of the New Zealand Sociological Association and has published internationally many books and articles on sociology and the social sciences. Charles’s research interests include social theory and research methodology as well as sociological studies of/within settler societies. Since returning from South Africa he has included work on Māori Urban Disparities (with the James Henare Centre at UoA), the Wellington Policy Establishment and its social research capabilities and performances, and the urban mosaic of Auckland.

Learning in the Clouds - Second Life

Dr Scott Diener
21 August 2009
This session introduced the rapidly growing use of 3D virtual worlds like Second Life to host working, teaching and learning environments. A live presentation of Scott’s research initiatives was followed by a Q & A session.

Scott is the Associate Director, IT Services (Academic Support) at the University of Auckland. Before coming to New Zealand Scott spent 20 years in the psychology faculty at Chapman University in Orange, California, and was the Associate Dean of the College of Lifelong Learning. Scott came to the University of Auckland in 2001 and has since led developments related to eLearning strategies and online learning systems. He is on the Governance Board of the New Zealand National Virtual World Grid, and is active in many international groups related to the use of virtual worlds in higher education.

Predictive Risk Modelling

Dr Rhema Vaithianathan
28 August 2009
Predictive Risk Models (PRMs) are case-finding tools that enable health care systems to identify patients at risk of expensive and potentially avoidable events such as emergency hospitalisation. Examples include the PARR (Patients-at-Risk-of-Rehospitalisation) tool and Combined Predictive Model used by the National Health Service in England. When such models are coupled with an appropriate preventive intervention designed to avert the adverse event, they represent a useful strategy for improving the targeting and cost-effectiveness of preventive health care.

This presentation introduced PRM to the New Zealand health policy audience and explored some of the issues surrounding the potential introduction of a PRM to New Zealand.

Rhema Vaithianathan, Ph.D., a 2007–08 Commonwealth Fund Harkness Fellow in Health Care Policy and Practice, is a health economist and senior lecturer at the University of Auckland. Previously, she was a research fellow at The Australian National University, economic consultant to the New Zealand Health Funding Authority, and policy analyst at the New Zealand Treasury. Her interests lie in health care financing systems and policy on the international level.

Vaithianathan’s research on topics including adverse selection, rank dependent utility analysis, cost-sharing, and imperfect competition in health insurance markets, has been published in the Journal of Health Economics, Journal of Health Services Research and Policy, Economic Theory, and Australian Economic Review. She was awarded the University of Auckland’s Business School Research Excellence Award and Prize for Best Doctoral Dissertation in Business/Economics.

Java-Based Microsimulation - Software Development

Oliver Mannion
4 September 2009
Compared to Agent-Based Modelling (ABM) there is a dearth of software development tools specific to microsimulation. This session discussed the functional requirements for an end-user microsimulation model, a brief overview of existing tools, and work from the initial stages of the development of a Java based microsimulation model (JPCASO) using existing open-source packages.

Oliver Mannion is the COMPASS programmer, with a background in Computer Science and Sociology. He has 7 years’ information systems technical experience including analysis, development and implementation for a variety of organisations (commercial, governmental and NGO) in different countries in the Asia/Pacific region. The framework discussed in this seminar for performing microsimulation in Java, JAMSIM, is now described in more detail on the JAMSIM Google Code website.

Assessment of Integrated Aged Care Policy in New Zealand - A system dynamics approach

Keming Wang
18 September 2009
This talk presented the impacts (both anticipated and unintended consequences) of current and future health and social care demand from a rising population of senior citizens in South Auckland, and how an integrated health policy could cope with such demand rises and services delivery. System Dynamics concepts and methodology will be used as means of modelling system complexities as well as creating a learning process and a platform for health policy makers.

Keming Wang is a PhD candidate of Management and International Business (MIB) at the University of Auckland. He completed his medical degree in China and received his Masters of Health Management at the University of Auckland. He has been working for Counties Manukau District Health Board (CMDHB) for 3 years mainly focusing on building system dynamics models for strategic policymaking, e.g. diabetes model, smokefree model, and service mixed model for older people.

Health services and health systems research in the School of Population Health

Associate Professor Toni Ashton
25 September 2009
The Centre for Health Services Research and Policy (CHSRP) was originally set up by Prof Peter Davis in the early 1990s. CHSRP is now a multi-disciplinary research centre within the School of Population Health with a primary focus on the funding, provision, evaluation, organisation and management of health services; and the development and implementation of health policy.

Our aim is to advance understanding of the structure, processes and effects of health services and health policy, with a view to the more effective management and delivery of services and a more efficient and equitable health system. FMHS is now proposing the establishment of a new National Institute of Health Innovation (NIHI).

Toni explained the areas of research that are currently being undertaken within CHSRP and the vision for NIHI in the future. Toni Ashton, PhD, is Associate Professor in Health Economics, and Director of the Centre for Health Services Research and Policy at the School of Population Health, the University of Auckland. Her research centres on the financing and organisation of health systems from an economic perspective. In recent years the main focus of her research programme has been the reform of the public health system in New Zealand, including the analysis of a series of structural changes.

The Survey Research Unit - Who are they and what do they do?

Dr Rob McNeill
25 September 2009
The Survey Research Unit (SRU) was established in 2002 to coordinate survey research at the University of Auckland, manage the CATI (Computer Assisted Telephone Interview) resources and provide an organisational unit for staff with expertise in survey research. Since then the range of services that it can offer has increased and the unit has had a new Director, Rob McNeill, since the beginning of this year.

Rob provided an overview of what the SRU can provide in terms of survey research services, as well as outlining a vision for how the unit might change and grow. Rob McNeill, PhD. is currently a lecturer in the section of Health Systems, Director of the Survey Research Unit (SRU) and a principal investigator in the Centre for Health Services Research and Policy (CHSRP). He has a background in research methods and health psychology, with a particular interest in evidence-based models for understanding health behaviour. For the past four years he has been working on numerous health services research and evaluation projects within CHSRP, with a particular interest in establishing quantitative outcome measures of health attitudes, beliefs and behaviours for health service evaluations at a population level.

Modelling the evolution of language: on the pleasures and perils of simplicity

Professor Russell Gray
2 October 2009
Russell Gray is Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Auckland. His research spans four areas united by a strong emphasis on evolutionary thinking and principles: language evolution, animal cognition, avian evolution and philosophy of biology. His work on language evolution has pioneered the application of phylogenetic methods to questions about human prehistory such as the settlement of the Pacific and the spread of Indo-European languages. Russell’s research on the philosophy of biology has focused on the nature/nurture debate and the role developmental systems play in evolution. He has been awarded a James Cook Fellowship from the Royal Society of New Zealand and a Hood Fellowship from the University of Auckland.

Urban Change in Auckland: An Exploratory Spatial Analysis Using Census Data

Babak Mahdavi
16 October 2009
Based on an exploratory and spatial analysis of the census data from 1991 to 2006, some specific demographical/ethnical changes in the urban landscape of the greater Auckland at area unit level was illustrated and discussed. Particular attention was given to some measures of spatial dimension (segregation/diversity), along with spatial dependence/autocorrelation.

Babak is Research Asssociate at COMPASS and doctoral scholar in Geography at the University of Auckland. His current research interests include agent-based modelling and simulation, and spatial modelling and analysis.

Experiments in Economics: The Role of Social Norms and Preferences

Associate Professor Ananish Chaudhuri
23 October 2009
The starting point of much economic analysis, especially in situations involving strategic decision making, is the idea of rational self-interest. This presentation discussed how, contrary to the received wisdom, in a wide variety of economic transactions social norms and norm-driven behaviour, such as notions of fairness and willingness to cooperate with strangers play a crucial role. It focused specifically on a social dilemma where there is tension between cooperation and self-interest and explore how people's beliefs about their group members affect cooperation. Also examined was the role of interventions such as communication and punishments in sustaining cooperation.

Ananish Chaudhuri is Professor of Experimental Economics in the University of Auckland’s Business School. He is the editor-in-chief of New Zealand Economic Papers and an associate editor of the Journal of Economic Psychology, a leading international journal publishing research at the inter-face of economics and psychology. In early 2009, Ananish published Experiments in Economics: Playing Fair with Money (Routledge), which is the first book to provide an easily accessible overview of economic experiments that explore the role of social norms and norm-driven behaviour – such as notions of fairness, altruism, trust and reciprocity – in economic transactions; and how findings in this area can change the way we approach a variety of economic problems such as pricing by firms, writing contracts between parties and making voluntary contributions to charity.

System Dynamics: Improving Discourse in a Complex World

Associate Professor Tim Kenealy and David Rees
20 November 2009
System Dynamics (SD) is a system-based approach that makes use of qualitative mapping tools and quantitative simulation models. While there are many modelling approaches, each with their own set of attributes SD has, we believe, a level of simplicity and transparency that supports improved discourse on complex issues. Too often, when people come together to discuss complex problems they come with their own agenda and dialect; common ground and a common language are often hard to find. The visual nature of the SD modelling language provides a means of breaking through these different perspectives to provide a common, testable language that makes use of both qualitative and quantitative data.

When SD models are developed collaboratively they become a powerful engagement tool, helping people engage with the evidence. The models become a focus of experimentation and testing; a tool that is used to structure conversations and support the search for new understandings and innovative solutions. In this presentation we will discuss these characteristics of SD modelling and illustrate with examples taken from the work we have been doing in the health sector over the last decade, including a current HRC funded project on cardiovascular disease.

David Rees is a founding partner of Synergia Ltd where his work focuses on the application of systems methods to issues within the health and social services sectors. David is also involved in a number of Health Research Council (HRC) research projects in the health sector and from 2004 to 2007 led a four year research project funded by the Foundation for Research Science & Technology (FfRST), applying systems methods to design and innovation within small businesses. With an academic background that combines education and organisational learning David is interested in finding ways of helping people find productive solutions within organisational settings. As part of this work David utilises dynamic simulation tools which enable people to go beyond the constraints of their own mental models to develop collaborative system models that allow them to explore and test alternative futures. David is an Honorary Lecturer at Auckland University’s School of Population Health. He is also completing his PhD at Victoria University of Wellington looking at the application of System Dynamics to the design, implementation of programmes to improve care for people with chronic conditions.

Tim Kenealy works as a GP in South Auckland, where he has been in his own practice for 25 years. He is Associate Professor of Integrated Care at the School of Population Health at the University of Auckland. His academic interests were triggered by seeing a great many people with inadequately managed and controlled diabetes. Diabetes continues to play a central role in his research, teaching and clinical practice. Tim’s other research interests are chronic care management, data collection and audit in general practice, randomised controlled trials in primary care, mixed methods research and evaluation, access to care, integration of care within primary care and integration of care between patients and caregivers, primary and secondary sectors.