Dr Hattie Wright | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Dr Hattie Wright

PhD (Nutrition) N-W(S.Af.), MSc(Diet) N-W(S.Af.), BSc(Hons) (Nutrition) N-W(S.Af.), BSc(Diet) N-W(S.Af.), GD(Diet) Pret.

  • Senior Lecturer, Nutrition and Dietetics
Email
Telephone
+61 7 5459 4775
Office location
SD-T-3-3.27
Campus
Sunshine Coast
Hattie Wright

Hattie Wright is a senior lecturer in Nutrition and Dietetics within the School of Health and Behavioural Sciences. Prior to her current appointment she held academic positions at the North-West University, South Africa (2000-2013) and the Centre of Excellence for Nutrition, South Africa (2003-2013). She is currently a visiting research fellow at the Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service and member of the Cluster for Health Improvement research at USC.

Hattie is an accredited practising (APD) dietitian with a particular interest in the role of diet in health outcomes. She marvels in how slight changes in dietary intake can have large effects on overall health. She always had a specific interest in the synergistic role of diet and exercise in human health. This fuelled her initial research focus in the area of women’s health with specific attention to the dual role of diet and exercise on musculoskeletal health, reproductive function and disordered eating behaviour across the premenopausal and postmenopausal lifespan of active and sedentary women.

She also applied her expertise in dietary methodology and body composition assessment to investigate the role of diet in chronic disease management with a specific focus on healthy ageing.

Hattie is a member of the Dietitians Australia association, the Nutrition Interest group of the Clinical Oncology Society of Australia, the Prevention Community of Practice working group of the Dietitians and Nutritionists Strategic Coalition in Queensland, the Queensland Allied Health Translating Research Into Practice Showcase and Recognition working group, national Dietetic Educators Community of Practice group, and the Sunshine Coast Health Institute (SCHI) Education Advisory group. Hattie chair the SCHI workforce and career development pathways working group and is currently the Vice-President of the Professionals in Nutrition for Exercise and Sport (PINES) international sports nutrition organisation.

Globally we have an ageing population and with that there is a concomitant increase in chronic disease. In Australia there has been a 42% increase in chronic conditions since 2007/8. Chronic disease can be debilitating with an immense impact on older adults, their families, carers as well as the health care system with accompanying health care costs. Hattie’s research is aimed at reducing the burden on the health care system through a patient-centred focus. She is particularly interested in the improvement of the health-related quality of life of people through lifestyle behaviour change. Adhering to a healthy diet is often overlooked as a powerful strategy to improve physical function, reduce disease progression, and support chronic disease management which is ultimately associated with a better quality of life.

Specifically, Hattie’s research focus on the role of dietary patterns in disease management using both a priori and posteriori methods. Hattie uses theory, such as the Health Belief Model, to make sense of the determinants of people’s food choice to better understand drivers of dietary adherence. Having a sound understanding of what supports people to follow healthy diets is invaluable to health professionals and patients alike. Health professionals can tailor their nutrition education and interventions to be more patient-centred which can support patients to change their behaviour. Hattie’s research can be translated into future nutrition education and intervention programs to support disease management, improve physical function and thereby health-related quality of life.

As a teacher Hattie focus her scholarship in teaching and learning on improving the employability of future dietitians through the use of experiential learning with a specific focus on simulation-based learning. Past projects included the use of online serious games to develop clinical reasoning skills at an undergraduate level in the delivery of nutrition care and building confidence in the delivery of nutrition care using standardised patients in an acute care setting. Current focus is on the development of communication skills of students in a variety of settings, including face to face and telehealth.

Research expertise

Hattie’s research expertise spans clinical, intervention, epidemiology and education research in particular longitudinal cohort studies, qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods approaches.

Supervision

Dr Wright is currently supervising 2 Honours students, 2 Master students and 2 Doctoral students. Projects are currently being offered by Dr Wright across topics relating to chronic disease management through diet and/or exercise.

Expressions of interest are welcome from prospective Honours, Masters, PhD and Postdoctoral candidates.

Research Projects

  • Health literacy and nutrition knowledge in caregivers of patients with chronic kidney disease.
  • The effect of a high-fat meal on markers of vascular function in patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
  • A prospective study of patient-related factors and clinical outcomes of people with and without Lymphoma.
  • Dietary inflammatory index, physical function and quality of life of healthy older adults living on the Sunshine Coast.

Research Collaborators

  • Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service
  • Sunshine Coast Council
  • Griffith University
  • Auckland University
  • Bloomhill Cancer Care

Research areas

  • Diet quality and chronic disease prevention
  • Behaviour change and disease self-management
  • Lifestyle behaviour (diet & exercise) and healthy ageing
  • Dietetic education and employability

Teaching areas

  • Medical Nutrition Therapy
  • Counselling and communication skills
  • Nutrition and Dietetic skills

Dr Wright’s specialist areas of knowledge include nutrition therapy for people with chronic diseases of lifestyle, behaviour change, bone health, health-related quality of life and diet quality.

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