Kimberley Norman

Exploring the Lived Experience and Perceived Barriers to Obesity Healthcare from Rural Waikato Healthcare Professionals and Clients

PhD research within the Te Huataki Waiora - School of Health


Chief supervisor
Professor Ross Lawrenson

Research duration:
2020—2023 (3 year/s)

  • 2022 University of Waikato 3MT Doctoral Competition Prize - Runner-up
  • 2022 Lotteries Commission Scholarship Award Winner
  • 2021 Waikato DHB Research Trust Award
  • 2020 Waikato DHB Research Trust Award

Obesity is a significant health risk, known to lead to other serious health issues including type two diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer, depression, anxiety, social isolation and spiritual disconnect. Getting access to care and support can be difficult, particularly in rural areas.

University of Waikato PhD student Kimberley Norman is studying the barriers to, and experiences with, weight management in rural general practice, from clinician and client perspectives.

“Our people living in rural areas have statistically poorer outcomes of health, and experience more difficulties accessing primary healthcare,” Kimberley says. “Rural general practices are commonly under-resourced, under-staffed and under-funded, leading to further difficulties in delivering effective healthcare to our rural communities. I chose this research topic because I believe it’s important to shed light on a population in our country who suffer health inequity – rural populations and Indigenous Māori.”

She hopes her research will draw attention to rural health needs and how those needs should be met, and says her study is aptly timed as New Zealand goes through health reforms.

Kimberley majored in Psychology and Critical Health Psychology for her bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and it was after graduating with her master’s that she got a job as a research officer at the University of Waikato under Professor Ross Lawrenson on a Health Research Council colorectal cancer research project. That was in 2019 and the next year she began her PhD study, supervised by Professor Lawrenson, Associate Professor Lynne Chepulis, and Professor Lisette Burrows in Te Huataki Waiora School of Health.

Already she’s written seven papers as a result of her PhD research.

“Through my supervisors I know I’m well set up to enter a range of employment avenues in the future. I’ve gained much more than research skills through working with them: experience with grant writing, interdisciplinary collaboration, international research relations, disseminating research, presenting at conferences, and of course the helpful advice for 3MT.”

Kimberley placed second in the University’s recent three-minute thesis competition. She’s on track to complete her doctoral study in February next year.

“My PhD journey has taught me perseverance and patience. Things in academia, especially with publishing papers, can take time and can take a few attempts and reviews to get published. Learning how the world of journals, reviewers and publishing works was invaluable and has given me skills that will be important in the future,” she says.

“If I had any advice for people thinking about PhD study, I’d say talk to people who’ve already done it, talk to professors who are working in the field you’re interested in, because they can help set you in the right direction. Know there’s never a ‘great’ time to get into higher level research – but just go for it!”

Other Success Stories

Grant Rutherford Grant Rutherford
Bachelor of Health, Sport and Human Performance

Stacey Waaka Stacey Waaka
Bachelor of Health, Sport and Human Performance

Sarah Martin Sarah Martin
Bachelor of Health, Sport and Human Performance, Bachelor of Teaching

Blair  Mills Blair Mills
Master of Health, Sport and Human Performance