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This month, we talk to Gayl Humphrey, co-lead of the Health Informatics and Technology Programme at the National Institute for Health Innovation at the University of Auckland. Gayl is currently working on the Manaaki App, a new mHealth cognitive behavioural therapy app for people experiencing gambling harms or problems.

Ko Ben Nevis ko Ngongotaha te maunga
Ko Tower Burn ko Utuhina te awa
Ko Whitclife te waka
Ko Pākehā et Scottish te iwi
Ko Dunfermline te marae
Ko Gayl tōku ingoa

Gayl spent a lot of her teenage years growing up in Rotorua with her brothers.  It was a great place to grow up, with loads of things to do outdoors and on the water. Gayl is currently the co-lead of the Health Informatics and Technology Programme, at the National Institute for Health Innovation, at the University of Auckland.  Which means that Gayl is really interested in the way technology and data can be used together in health.  She likes to see how we can overcome issues like access, language, literacy, timing etc.  Gayl’s research interest is often categorised as mHealth or digital health and with the new tools like smart phones and devises the potential is huge.   

Gayl has been in this role for a little over eight years, and came to it from previous work she was doing at Auckland DHB, on telehealth and people with heart failure.  Back then they were looking at using feature phones (no smartphones then) and hubs in the home, with scales for weight and blood pressure.  With colleagues at the DHB, Gayl and her team wanted to see if supporting people in their homes with information and the tools to support self-management improves their quality of life, their self-management and also see a decrease in exacerbations.  It was the first Telehealth Trial in NZ and it was Gayl’s stepping stone into a research role at the University.

Some things that Gayl is looking forward to for 2020 includes; seeing if the current project that her and her colleagues are working on – Manaaki – can be a useful tool for people who are experiencing gambling harms or problems.  We need to have lots of options for people as we aren’t the same and so having options means that more people are able to receive help in the way that suits them.  

About the Manaaki app and research Gayl is currently involved in;
Manaaki is a new mHealth cognitive behavioural therapy app for people experiencing gambling harms or problems.  It has been developed at the National Institute for Health Innovation and is based on the Deakin University GamblingLess on-line tool. While Manaaki is evidence-based, the method of delivery—via an app—is new. The study is supported by a research grant from the Health Research Council, in partnership with colleagues from Social and Community Health of the University of Auckland, Deakin University, and Hāpai te Hauora.

The research study is about to be launched in a few weeks. It aims to evaluate the effectiveness of Manaaki for people experiencing gambling harms or problems, using a randomised study design. Manaaki aims to recruit adults (18 or older) living anywhere in New Zealand, who feel they may be experiencing gambling harms or problems.  Receiving treatment and support from services is not an exclusion factor.  For some participants, using the app may even support them to decide to contact a treatment provider.

The study runs over 12 weeks. Participants are asked to answer a set of questions (through the app) at 4, 8, and 12 weeks.  For those randomised to the control group, they will get the full app at the end of 12 weeks.   All activities from consent to questions to activities, are all undertaken through the app.  To acknowledge participants’ contribution to this study, they will receive a koha at the end of each completed question set (4, 8, and 12 weeks).

If you have any questions about the study or have suggestions and ideas for promoting the research to our communities and groups who may benefit, or just want to reach out to us, we would love to hear from you. Please email manaaki@auckland.ac.nz or call Gayl 021 1100901.

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