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Taking women’s health to the next level

During her research, Dr Victoria Chinn helped women set achievable goals to form daily habits across a wide range of health-promoting behaviours, including healthy eating, physical activity, self-care, stress management and good sleep.

As part of her PhD thesis, Dr Victoria Chinn created and delivered an empowering health programme entitled Next Level Health. It aimed to help women gain greater control of their wellbeing by making small, incremental changes to their lifestyle.

Her research provides a way forward for promoting women’s health in a way that focuses on sustainable, positive change relevant to their experience. “Beyond empowering women, this approach holds potential for promoting health in schools to our tamariki [children], empowering clinical populations that experience chronic illness and much more. My research is highly applicable to the real world given New Zealand’s current emphasis on mental wellbeing.”

During the programme, Dr Chinn helped women set achievable goals to form daily habits across a wide range of health-promoting behaviours that supported healthy eating, enjoyable physical activity, self-care, stress management and good sleep. 

“I was surprised by the power that making small, achievable changes can have on one’s outlook, not only for health, but on other areas of their lives as well,” she says.

“The findings from my research indicated that women made significant health improvements, in particular to their mental wellbeing. These benefits remained significantly improved six months beyond completing Next Level Health.”

Women’s responses after the programme indicated they were empowered by: approaching and experiencing their health in a more holistic way; creating routines that comprised a series of small, health-promoting adjustments to their usual lives; adopting a positive perspective that emphasised their personal strengths and accomplishments; and improving their health literacy for a wide range of health behaviours and their own unique experience of health.

Dr Chinn is currently working as a casual tutor at Massey University, and a part-time tutor at Victoria University in Wellington. She is also an Assistant Research Fellow at the University of Otago, Wellington, where she coordinates an outreach programme to engage primary school pupils in lab experiments.

“I’ve been fortunate to teach a variety of health topics to students of many ages, which is a very rewarding experience. Alongside these responsibilities I am publishing work from my thesis as well as writing publications for other side projects I am involved in. Over the next year, I will continue to build my profile with my eyes set on a post-doctorate to further progress my research.”

As well as her Doctor of Philosophy, Dr Chinn holds a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Anthropology from Pacific University, Oregon, in the United States. The 29-year-old, who is orginally from Portland, Oregon, is currently living in Newtown, Wellington with her partner who emigrated to New Zealand from the United States four years ago.

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