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Miriam Ketu-McKenzie

Doctor of Philosophy, (Psychology)
Study Completed: 2019
College of Humanities & Social Sciences


Thesis Title
The effects of a Mindfulness intervention on the cortisol levels of Maori women exposed to chronic stress and/or trauma

Read article at Massey Research Online: MRO icon

Chronic health conditions such as obesity and type II diabetes are prevalent among Māori women in New Zealand, as is childhood adversity and psychosocial stress. Adverse childhood experiences are thought to disrupt regulation of the steroid hormone, cortisol, which over time leads to wear and tear on the body and accelerates the pathway to chronic disease. Mrs Ketu-McKenzie researched the stress response systems of a group of Māori women who had experienced adversity in childhood, and explored associations between their cortisol profiles, their metabolic health and their mental wellbeing. She also tested the clinical effectiveness and cultural responsiveness of a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course that had been enhanced to suit a Māori audience. Her research confirmed that childhood adversity correlated with cortisol dysregulation among her Māori participants, and that MBSR therapy was well received by those women leading to clinically meaningful improvements in their health outcomes.

Dr Michael Philipp
Dr Stephen Hill
Dr Wendy Holley-Boen

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