Project Description

Te Hiringa Hauora/Health Promotion Agency (2019-2020) – Māori whānau and Pasifika families experience of sleep health messages
Te Hiringa Hauora commissioned Malatest International to conduct qualitative sleep research with 25 Māori and Pasifika parents and caregivers of children aged two years or under. The purpose was to understand their awareness of commonly promoted healthy sleep messages, experiences with these messages, enablers and barriers to implementing the messages, whether additional support or information may be needed and how this could best be shared with Māori whānau and Pasifika families.
The primary method of data collection was semi-structured in-depth focus groups and interviews with twelve Māori parents/caregivers from Auckland (6) and Northland (6) and 13 Pasifika parents/caregivers from Auckland. Participants included mothers (18), fathers (3) and grandmothers (4).
Key findings included:

  • Some messages were more widely known and understood than others. Generally, safe sleep messages had higher awareness than messages promoting quality sleep.
  • Families were exposed to messages through multiple sources but didn’t always implement what messages recommended
  • Families responded positively to messages that were useful, clear and straight forward; promoted behaviours they agreed with; reinforced common sense; were believed to foster safe and loving relationships
  • Barriers to implementing messages were interconnected with determinants of health, inequities and the social, cultural, collective and economic realities and environments for Māori whānau and Pasifika families.

Research implications suggested that effective healthy sleep messages for Māori and Pasifika families should:

  • Be simple and clear
  • Provide understanding about why they are important, and be clear whether they are prescriptive for safety reasons or suggest approaches to consider
  • Resonate with Māori and Pasifika parents and families and provide practical advice that aligns with te ao Māori and Tikānga and Pasifika worldviews, socio-cultural contexts and realities
  • Recognise that relationships matter – advice provided by trusted sources (e.g. family or health professional who have built a trusting relationship) are more likely to influence parents and caregivers’ attitudes and behaviours relating to healthy sleep
  • Reach and engage families. Be non-judgemental, flexible and practical – a ‘share and discuss’ engagement style between families and health professionals is needed to acknowledge and understand conflicting advice and allow for the pragmatic application of healthy sleep practice among families.

The research report and a two-page summary can be found here: