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Gut Foundation: New research

How do South Islanders understand bowel disease and what are their experiences of accessing health care?

Bowel cancer is the number one cause of cancer deaths in New Zealand, and The Foodstuffs (South Island) Community Trust supports the work of The Gut Foundation to help share how the importance of gut health is to your overall health. Here is information about the Gut Foundations' latest research.


Gut Symptom Investigation – South Island Study (GutSI-SI Study)

We know that people sometimes put off getting symptoms of bowel/gut disease checked, and that this can delay diagnosis and treatment. We also know that not everyone has smooth access to healthcare and an easy route through the health system. We do not currently understand as much as we need to about people’s knowledge of bowel/gut symptoms and what might prompt people to seek healthcare. We also do not have a good understanding of what happens when people do seek care for bowel/gut disease, nor do we understand why Māori have poorer outcomes when they do have bowel/gut disease.

We are planning a qualitative study based in the South Island of New Zealand that is designed to investigate these knowledge gaps. The purpose of qualitative research is to examine questions in depth by, in this case, interviewing participants for about an hour face-to-face around the South Island. The sample of 44 participants will be split into three major groups;

  • those with already diagnosed bowel/gut cancers (16 participants);
  • those with other forms of bowel/gut disease (16 participants);
  • those who have no disease (12 participants)

Within these groups we will be looking for maximum variability in the sample in relation to urban/rural location, gender and ethnicity. Part of the study will have a kaupapa Māori design that will involve Māori research staff including a Māori interviewer. This aspect is designed to ensure that the way we approach the research is appropriate for both European and Māori participants located in the South Island.

The qualitative study can stand alone and will produce valuable information that is likely to be useful to doctors working with patients with bowel disease, as well as those who work in health promotion and disease prevention. We plan to follow the qualitative project with a larger quantitative survey, but to make that survey as good as it can be, we need to understand these questions qualitatively first. We will then use the qualitative data to inform the survey questions.

Find out more about The Gut Foundations' research and how you can support them at