Dr Alice Theadom

Senior Research Fellow - National Institute for Stroke and Applied Neurosciences

Originally a health psychologist from England, Dr Alice Theadom came to New Zealand in 2009 on her OE and decided to stay as New Zealand just felt like home.

Since joining AUT, Alice completed her Doctor of Philosophy which explored sleep difficulties in Fibromyalgia Syndrome. She wanted to focus on how people adjust with chronic medical conditions, trying to improve healthcare and support people better.

Alice is really interested in how people’s identities and cultures support them while trying to manage and recover from an illness or injury. She uses this information to make sure people are supported in the way that they should be. Rather than suggesting one way for everyone.

“A one size fits all approach is unlikely to meet people’s needs so I’m really interested in looking at individual contexts and working the best we can with people.”

Alice has tried to embed this thinking in all the studies that she conducts within her role at the National Institute for Stroke and Applied Neurosciences (NISAN).

In a recent study on Traumatic Brain Injury, Alice looked at who was experiencing traumatic brain injury and how people were recovering: what difficulties seemed to be persisting or why people were doing well.

As part of this research, Alice then looked at people who self-identified as Pacific, to see how they were experiencing brain injuries. She wanted to see if there was a difference in outcomes, so she could then help to prevent injuries and improve outcomes for Pacific people.

“We always try to look at New Zealand as a general population, but then also look at specific cultural groups within that.”

In this study, Alice and her team found that the number of injuries was much higher for Pasifika people. With this information, they can work with Pacific communities to help prevent injuries occurring.

“People’s cultural perspectives are so important in helping them to optimise their health and well-being, and that really drives the research that I do.”