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Elenoa Kamanalagi Seru

Elenoa SeruPhD Candidate

Research Area: Psychosocial stressors and depression in the I-Taukei population

Current Research Summary:

Fiji is best known as a paradise island country, and if it is so, the rate of depression is expected to be much lower than other developing and developed country. However, it might not be so, considering the situation we have experienced over the past 20 years. As a psychologist and reading the available literature a greater exposure to modernization was associated with an increased risk of those chronic diseases that is prevalent in industrial nations, such as high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, and diabetes. Despite the considerable amount of work, the cultural dimensions of disease risk within and between social groups are not very well understood. The prevalence of mental illness and substance use has been increasing globally; unfortunately there are no baseline studies on the epidemiology of mental disorders in Fiji. The only data that is available is the clinical data from St Giles Hospital. There is dearth in the local literature on the prevalence of depression in the general population. The thesis aims to give new knowledge on the description of the psychosocial stressors and depression (disease) in the population is terms of the amount (per cent) and distribution (time, place, and person), using the DSM IV Axis IV diagnostic tool. Additionally, it will explain the predictor/correlates of illness (why is A sick and B well?), and testing of hypothesis. Furthermore, this thesis hopes to contribute to national-level decision-making on health care policy in terms of measuring health outcomes and having a balance sheet for decision (cost and benefits) analysis. The rationale for choosing the time-period is because it reflects and denotes the many changes and challenges that the citizens of Fiji have gone through.

The Candidature Experience:

I choose USP because it’s our regional institution and I believe the institution has the capacity to transform my learning experiences just as much as any international university would do. I believe in the “grow your own” concept, whereby USP grooms its own people to be the best in their respective fields. Enrolling into the PhD program at USP is a decision I don’t regret even when the first semester was eventful with my internal supervisor resigning soon after we had finalised my SOI and progressing towards my final proposal. I was disappointed but felt very much at home because I knew somehow I would see the light at the end of the tunnel. I got the administrative and academic support from my department and faculty. So far, it has been good with the first stage of data collection completed and I am looking forward to the second year and anticipating that the challenges will boost my morale and push me further and to aim higher. As a recipient of the USP Regional PhD Scholarship the support from the Research Office has been tremendous albeit all the hiccups and stumbling blocks. Excellent resources are available both online and F2F and the learning environment cannot be compared to any other natural setting in the Pacific. Safe and secure and an enjoyable experience –USP is the place to be!