Associate Professor Rachel Forrest

Dr Rachel Forrest

Leader:  Associate Professor Rachel Forrest

Healthy communities are at the heart of EIT’s research. A holistic approach to community health recognises physical, spiritual, mental, family, social, and environmental wellbeing as important interrelated determinants of human health. Health community’s research, therefore, requires an inter-disciplinary approach with a sharing of knowledge, expertise and perspectives.  The Community Cluster research focuses on initiatives that promote equitable community engagement and multi-sectorial linkages in order to build healthier communities. Currently there are three major research projects within this cluster


  • PATUTM – PATUTM is a social enterprise business which provides an innovative approach to providing sustainable healthy lifestyle interventions within local communities. PATUTM is primarily based around providing group exercise and healthy lifestyle education that aims to empower its participants (PATUTM whānau) to make wise life-choices. PATUTM not only delivers in local gyms but also at schools, marae, prison and workplaces. In doing so, PATUTM fights the war against obesity and the occurrence of associated long-term illnesses such as diabetes, high blood pressure and asthma. 


In collaboration with EIT, PATUTM research has resulted in the development of a novel, holistic health and wellbeing assessment tool called the Meke Meter in order to measure PATUTM outcomes in a comprehensive, culturally appropriate manner and help identify areas of need within an individual’s lifestyle to assist with goal setting and PATUTM servicing whānau needs. In addition PATUTM regularly tracks participant anthropometric measures (weight, height, waist, hip, BMI, body fat percentage and blood pressure) which provides a wealth of quantitative data for assessing physical outcomes.

There are many potential projects, eg

  • The use of the Meke meter in aiding the management of long term illnesses
  • Benefits of exercise: Savings for the health service
  • Benefits of exercise: social impact analysis
  • Evaluating Patu in schools
  • Evaluating Patu in the provinces

Nurse Led Model of Care

This project will plan, construct, implement and assess a nurse-led, co-ordinated care pathway that facilitates seamless care delivery between the acute and community services for people living with long term conditions. This will be achieved by establishing a cycle of co-ordination using two key points of contact, a new role called the Liaison Nurse Consultant (LNC) with advanced practice skills in managing long term conditions, and Practice Nurse Champions (PNC) who are already located in general practices and with whom LNCs will work in collaboration. The point of difference in this model is the LNCs located within the Hawke’s Bay regional health and social care networks, who will work across community and acute services to facilitate multi-disciplinary, wrap-around care, with a targeted focus on patients newly discharged from hospital or recently diagnosed with a chronic condition. This is to ensure that all services/referrals required for individual patient needs are managed seamlessly, appropriately and judiciously across the acute and community services, particularly during those times when people are most vulnerable (e.g. during the first 28 days after their discharge from an acute service, or those with a newly diagnosed condition or a change in health status). The model builds on work recently undertaken by Health Hawke’s Bay (HHB) and EIT, using a nurse-led respiratory care model, which showed a reduction in emergency admissions related to exacerbated chronic respiratory conditions, with a concomitant increase in preventive screening and effective management of patients in the general practice setting.

If you are interested in this project please contact Clare Harvey for potential Master’s projects


Skin Screening

 Skin cancer is one of the biggest killers around the world, with Australia and New Zealand having one of the highest rates of skin cancer worldwide. The Lions Cancer Institute (Western Australia) is a community funded organisation that has provided free, population based skin cancer screening programmes since 1991. In 2011, a study was initiated to explore the financial and clinical value of non-medical health professionals employed in this setting. More recently, in 2014, the study was expanded to New Zealand. Although it is too early to claim statistical significance, analyses indicate that non-medical professionals are able to support early detection of skin cancer lesions. More importantly the study is providing enhanced access to screening for those people who would not normally have sought professional advice.  

Potential projects, eg

  • Integrated literature review or meta-analysis on population based skin screening
  • Audit of current national cancer data collection processes
  • Squamous cell rates from specimens and diagnostics