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Dr Mat Walton PhD, DPH, BA (Hons)

Adjunct Senior Lecturer

School of Health Sciences

I work in the Social Systems Team at the Institue of Environmental Science adn Research Limited (ESR).  I come from a professional background of social policy analysis within local and central government, and an academic background of social policy and public health. My interests lie in the application of systems science and complexity theory to social, enviornmental and policy research.

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Professional

Qualifications

  • PhD - University of Otago (2010)
  • Post-Grad Diploma in Public Health - University of Otago (2002)
  • BA (Hons) - Victoria University of Wellington (1999)

Research Expertise

Research Interests

Current research focusses on the application of complexity theory to public health policy, intervention design and evaluation. 

 

Thematics

Health and Well-being

Area of Expertise

Field of research codes
Applied Sociology, Program Evaluation and Social Impact Assessment (160801):
Medical And Health Sciences (110000):
Policy and Administration (160500):
Public Health and Health Services (111700):
Sociology (160800): Studies In Human Society (160000)

Keywords

Public health policy; social policy; health promotion; complexity theory 

Research Projects

Completed Projects

Project Title: Developing complex evaluation strategies for wicked problems

This research seeks to apply complexity theory to the development of policy evaluation methods. Particular types of policy problems, such as reducing rates of obesity or family violence, can be considered `wicked¿ problems. `Wicked¿ policy problems cannot be easily defined, and are unlikely to have a single or simple solution. Effective policies for such problems may vary across geographic and demographic communities. This variation poses a challenge for evaluating policies to inform government investment. Several authors have discussed the likely benefits of complexity theory informed evaluation, but there are few practical examples of its application. The proposed research will: review current and emerging evaluation practices; interview leaders in the field of evaluation and complexity theory; develop evaluation scenarios for two policy case studies to identify possible evaluation methods; and, test these through a workshop with evaluation practitioners and users. The results will provide a guide to evaluation approaches for 'wicked' problems consistent with complexity theory. Strengths and weaknesses of approaches, potential barriers, and implications for policy and intervention design will be considered. This research will inform evaluation practice and further research regarding complexity theory and public policy.
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Date Range: 2012 - 2015

Funding Body: Marsden Fund - Fast Start

Project Team:

Research Outputs

Journal

Signal, LN., Bowers, SG., Edwards, R., Gifford, H., Hudson, S., Jenkin, GLS., . . . Walton, MD. (2018). Process, pitfalls and profits: Lessons from interviewing New Zealand policy-makers. Health Promotion International. 33(2), 187-194
[Journal article]Authored by: Walton, M.
Matheson, A., Walton, M., Gray, R., Lindberg, K., Shanthakumar, M., Fyfe, C., . . . Borman, B. (2018). Evaluating a community-based public health intervention using a complex systems approach. Journal of Public Health (United Kingdom). 40(3), 606-613
[Journal article]Authored by: Borman, B., Shanthakumar, M., Walton, M.
Walton, M. (2016). Expert views on applying complexity theory in evaluation: Opportunities and barriers. Evaluation. 22(4), 410-423
[Journal article]Authored by: Walton, M.
Neely, E., Walton, M., & Stephens, C. (2016). Fostering social relationships through food rituals in a New Zealand school. Health Education. 116(5), 434-448
[Journal article]Authored by: Stephens, C., Walton, M.
Neely, E., Walton, M., & Stephens, C. (2016). Food practices and school connectedness: a whole-school approach. Health Education. 116(3), 320-340
[Journal article]Authored by: Stephens, C., Walton, M.
Walton, M. (2016). Setting the context for using complexity theory in evaluation: Boundaries, governance and utilisation. Evidence and Policy. 12(1), 73-89
[Journal article]Authored by: Walton, M.
Neely, E., Walton, M., & Stephens, C. (2015). Building school connectedness through shared lunches. Health Education. 115(6), 554-569
[Journal article]Authored by: Stephens, C., Walton, M.
Neely, E., Walton, M., & Stephens, C. (2014). Young people's food practices and social relationships. A thematic synthesis. Appetite. 82, 50-60
[Journal article]Authored by: Stephens, C., Walton, M.
Walton, M. (2014). Applying complexity theory: A review to inform evaluation design. Evaluation and Program Planning. 45, 119-126
[Journal article]Authored by: Walton, M.
Walton, M., Signal, L., & Thomson, G. (2013). Public policy to promote healthy nutrition in schools: Views of policymakers. Health Education Journal. 72(3), 283-291
[Journal article]Authored by: Walton, M.
Mengwasser, E., & Walton, M. (2013). 'Show me what health means to you!'-Exploring children's perspectives of health. Pastoral Care in Education. 31(1), 4-14
[Journal article]Authored by: Walton, M.
Signal, LN., Walton, MD., Ni Mhurchu, C., Maddison, R., Bowers, SG., Carter, KN., . . . Pearce, J. (2013). Tackling 'wicked' health promotion problems: A New Zealand case study. Health Promotion International. 28(1), 84-94
[Journal article]Authored by: Walton, M.
Walton, M., & Mengwasser, E. (2012). An ethical evaluation of evidence: A stewardship approach to public health policy. Public Health Ethics. 5(1), 16-21
[Journal article]Authored by: Walton, M.
Signal, L., Firestone, R., Mann, J., Mhurchu, CN., Lawrenson, R., Murphy, R., . . . Walton, M. (2011). New Zealand's shocking diabetes rates can be reduced-9 urgently needed actions. New Zealand Medical Journal. 124(1340), 14
[Journal article]Authored by: Firestone, R., Walton, M.
Eppel, E., Matheson, A., & Walton, M. (2011). Applying complexity theory to New Zealand public policy: Principles for practice. Policy Quarterly. 7(1), 48-55
[Journal article]Authored by: Walton, M.
Walton, M., Waiti, J., Signal, L., & Thomson, G. (2010). Identifying barriers to promoting healthy nutrition in New Zealand primary schools. Health Education Journal. 69(1), 84-94
[Journal article]Authored by: Walton, M.
Walton, M., Signal, L., & Thomson, G. (2009). Household economic resources as a determinant of childhood nutrition: Policy responses for New Zealand. Social Policy Journal of New Zealand. (36), 194-207
[Journal article]Authored by: Walton, M.
Walton, M., Pearce, J., & Day, P. (2009). Examining the interaction between food outlets and outdoor food advertisements with primary school food environments. Health and Place. 15(3), 841-848
[Journal article]Authored by: Walton, M.
Walton, MD., & Signal, L. (2008). Environmental influences on obesity and children's nutrition in Aotearoa New Zealand. Hauora. , 1-8
[Journal article]Authored by: Walton, M.

Book

Walton, M., Tu'itahi, S., Stairmand, J., & Neely, E. (2015). Settings-based health promotion. In L. Signal, & M. Ratima (Eds.) Promoting Health in Aotearoa New Zealand. (pp. 241 - 263). Dunedin: Otago University Press
[Chapter]Authored by: Walton, M.Contributed to by: Walton, M.
Walton, MD., & Signal, L. (2010). Childhood obesity and the food environment. In J. Pearce, & K. Witten (Eds.) Geographies of Obesity. (pp. 1 - 356). London: Ashgate
[Chapter]Authored by: Walton, M.

Thesis

Neely, EM. (2015). Moving beyond nutrients - Nurturing young people's social health and school connectedness through food. (Doctoral Thesis, Massey University)
[Doctoral Thesis]Edited by: Stephens, C., Walton, M.
Walton, M. (2010). Promoting healthy childhood nutrition through primary schools - A complex analysis of policy options. (Doctoral Thesis, University of Otago)
[Doctoral Thesis]Authored by: Walton, M.

Report

Matheson, AG., Walton, M., Gray, R., Lindberg, K., & Shanthakumar, M.(2017). Interim Report: Evaluation of Healthy Families NZ.
[Technical Report]Authored by: Shanthakumar, M., Walton, M.
Mann, J., Johnston, M., McLean, R., Hoek, J., Cumming, J., Schofield, G., . . . Williams, S.(2009). Healthy eating - healthy action; oranga kai - oranga pumau strategy evaluation interim report.
[Technical Report]Authored by: Walton, M.

Conference

Matheson, A., & Walton, M. (2017, April). Making sense of local differences in a public health evaluation: Prioritising system feedback and interactions. Presented at 15th World Congress on Public Health. Melbourne, Australia.
[Conference Oral Presentation]Authored by: Walton, M.
Walton, MD. (2015, September). Applying complexity theory to evaluation: Reflecting on research to inform practice. Presented at Australasian Evaluation Society Conference 2015. Melbourne, Australia.
[Conference Oral Presentation]Authored by: Walton, M.
Walton, MD. (2014, October). Are we ready for complexity? Understanding the context to using complexity tools. Presented at American Evaluation Association Conference 2014. Denver, Colorado.
[Conference Oral Presentation]Authored by: Walton, M.
Walton, MD. (2014, October). What do policymakers find useful about complexity informed evaluations?. Presented at American Evaluation Association Conference 2014. Denver, Colorado.
[Conference Oral Presentation]Authored by: Walton, M.
Severinsen, CA., Phibbs, S., & Walton, M. (2013). Inquiry-based learning in community health.. , International Conference on Education, Economics, Psychology and Society
[Conference Abstract]Authored by: Phibbs, S., Severinsen, C., Walton, M.
Severinsen, CA., Phibbs, S., & Walton, M. (2013). Engaging undergraduate students in community health research.. , New Zealand Public Health Association Conference
[Conference Abstract]Authored by: Phibbs, S., Severinsen, C., Walton, M.
Severinsen, CA., Phibbs, SR., & Walton, MD. (2013). Inquiry-based e-learning in community health. In ?, International Conference on Education, Economics, Psychology and Society
[Conference Abstract]Authored by: Phibbs, S., Severinsen, C., Walton, M.
Walton, M. (2013, August). Evaluating community nutrition interventions: Complex challenges and complexity solutions. Presented at 21st International Union for Health Promotion and Education [IUHPE] World Conference on Health Promotion: Best Investments for Health. Pattaya, Thailand.
[Conference Oral Presentation]Authored by: Walton, M.
Walton, M. (2012, September). Evaluating policy for complex systems: Approaches for public health policy. Presented at Population Health Congress 2012: Population Health in a Changing World. Adelaide, Australia.
[Conference Oral Presentation]Authored by: Walton, M.
Walton, M. (2012, September). Designing policy for complex systems: A case study and reflections. Presented at Population Health Congress 2012: Population Health in a Changing World. Adelaide, Australia.
[Conference Oral Presentation]Authored by: Walton, M.
Walton, M. (2012, October). The challenge of participatory methods for political accountability. Presented at 10th European Evaluation Society [EES] Biennial Conference: Evaluation in the networked society: New concepts - New challenges - New solutions. Helsinki, Finland.
[Conference Oral Presentation]Authored by: Walton, M.
Walton, M., McDonald, J., Cumming, J., Fowler, S., & Green, T.(2010). Evaluating value-for-money of complex interventions within complex settings: Difficulties and proposed methods. . Wellington, New Zealand
[Conference Paper]Authored by: Walton, M.
Walton, M., & McDonald, J. (2010, August). Evaluating value-for-money within complex interventions and settings: Difficulties and proposed methods. Presented at Australasian Evaluation Society Conference. Wellington, New Zealand.
[Conference Oral Presentation]Authored by: Walton, M.
Walton, MD., Signal, L., & Thomson, G. (2009, August). Using complexity theory to develop health policy: A proposed method. Presented at Emerging Health Policy Research Conference. University of Sydney, NSW.
[Conference Oral Presentation]Authored by: Walton, M.
Walton, MD. (2008, November). Improving primary school food environments through policy interventions: The perspective from schools. Presented at What's Happening in Our Backyard: HEHA Research, Evaluation and Monitoring Conference. Wellington, New Zealand.
[Conference Oral Presentation]Authored by: Walton, M.
Walton, MD. (2008, July). Health policy research methods: What can complexity theory offer. Presented at Public Health Association of New Zealand Conference. Waitangi, New Zealand.
[Conference Oral Presentation]Authored by: Walton, M.
Walton, MD. (2007, June). Improving childhood nutrition and reducing inequalities through healthy public policy in New Zealand. Presented at 19th IUHPE World Conference on Health Promotion and Health Education. Vancouver, Canada.
[Conference Oral Presentation]Authored by: Walton, M.

Other

Walton, MD., & Praat, A. (2014, August). Detecting Emergence - methods for policy and planning. An Engaged Social Science (ESocSci) Methodologies Network Seminar.
[Oral Presentation]Authored by: Walton, M.
Phibbs, S., Severinsen, C., & Walton, M. (2013). Utilizing eLearning environments to deliver inquiry based learning. : Ako Aotearoa
[Internet publication]Authored by: Phibbs, S., Severinsen, C., Walton, M.
Walton, MD., Signal, L., Bowers, S., Carter, K., Gorton, D., Heta, C., . . . Pearce, J. (2009). Enhancing food security and physical activity for Maori Pacific and low-income peoples. (pp. 1 - 223). : Clinical Trials Research Unit, University of Canterbury
[Working Paper]Authored by: Walton, M.

Teaching and Supervision

Completed Doctoral Supervision

Co-supervisor of:

  • 2015 - Eva Neely - Doctor of Philosophy
    Moving beyond Nutrients- Nurturing Young People's Social Health and School Connectedness through Food

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