Researcher Spotlight: Jenna Hollis

Michelle Putt Uncategorised

In 2023, four early and mid-career researchers were celebrated for their exceptional work in the annual Health in Preconception, Pregnancy and Postpartum Early and Mid-career Researcher Collective (HiPPP EMR-C) International Awards.

The awards align with the HiPPP EMR-C purpose of creating opportunities for members to build capacity, form collaborations, transcend discipline and sector-based silos, and generate impact across research, policy and practice in the HiPPP field. 

We sat down with each winner to ask them about their award, their research and a few of their favourite things.

OUTSTANDING INTERNATIONAL COLLABORATION: Dr Jenna Hollis, Clinical and Health Services Research Fellow, University of Newcastle and Hunter New England Population Health

How did you feel to be presented with your award?

I felt grateful to receive this award among the high calibre of early and mid-career researchers and health professionals that are HiPPP EMR-C members. I am fortunate to have found an inspiring and supportive collaborator in Associate Professor Wendy Lawrence from the University of Southampton (UK), as it is through her generosity and mentorship that this research has been possible. I would also like to recognise the other researchers, health professionals and educators in Australia and overseas who have encouraged, supported, and collaborated with me to build a program of Healthy Conversation Skills research in Australia.

What does it mean to have your work recognised by the HiPPP EMR-C and CRE HiPP?

A: HiPPP EMR-C and CRE HiPP have built an inspiring community of researchers, health professionals and consumers all committed to a common cause; supporting families to improve their health and health behaviours before, during and after pregnancy. It is an honour to have our research and collaboration recognised by a leading international research centre that is CRE HiPP and HiPPP EMR-C.

Q: What excites/motivates you about your research?

For me, research is about asking difficult questions, solving problems, and finding new ways to support people to improve their health and quality of life. I am motivated to positively influence the way that people engage with health care for nutrition and physical activity before, during and after pregnancy.

We know that providing people with knowledge via didactic communication focussed on advice giving and instruction is usually insufficient to support a person to change their behaviour, and consequently limits positive impacts on their health. Using person-centred communication approaches, we can have exploratory conversations that seek to understand the person’s world and the context of their behaviours and support them to plan their own solutions. In doing so, people are empowered to activity engage in decision-making about their health and health care.

Healthy Conversation Skills in one such evidenced-based approach which we have introduced to Australia, with support from the training developers from the University of Southampton in the UK. We are currently testing Healthy Conversation Skills training as a sustainable and scalable model to build the healthcare workforces’ capacity to provide person-centred care for health behaviour change in the first 2000 days of life.

I have found the training to be transformative, and it has impacted the way I communicate in all facets of my work and personal life. I love facilitating the interactive training, watching people’s ‘lightbulb’ moments and hearing stories of how it has transformed their conversations and the way they provide health care.

Q: What do you hope to achieve with your research in 2024?

In 2024, we will finish the implementation phase and start evaluating the first Healthy Conversation Skills implementation trial. The project tests the implementation of Healthy Conversation Skills training in public maternity services in the Hunter New England Local Health District (in New South Wales, Australia) and its effect on antenatal care providers’ delivery of care for gestational weight gain. The findings will help us understand how Healthy Conversation Skills could be scaled-up and rolled out more broadly, both within maternity settings and across any patient-facing healthcare setting.

I will look for new opportunities to disseminate and evaluate Healthy Conversation Skills training in Australia and overseas by partnering with other researchers, health organisations and universities to make Healthy Conversation Skills training available to the current and future healthcare workforce.

Q: What does being part of the HiPPP EMR-C mean to you?

I joined the HiPPP EMR-C in 2019 at its inception and began co-chairing the Conference Organising Committee in 2020. Over the last five years, HiPPP EMR-C has helped me grow my skills, network, and confidence as researcher, as I transitioned from an early to mid-career researcher. It has provided me with leadership opportunities, mentoring from senior researchers and with my EMRC peers, networking events to meet and build collaborations with researchers and health service partners, funding to help me build research projects and collaborate with others, and has enabled me to share my research and learn from others through conferences and webinars. I am incredibly proud of the growth and productivity of HiPPP EMR-C in such a short period of time and believe that central to its success is the vision, passion, collegiately, resilience and hard work of the HiPPP EMR-C community. I am so grateful to be a part of the ‘HiPPP EMR-C family’.

Q: Hot drink order?

Skim latte, occasionally with an extra coffee shot.

Q: Your current book/podcast/TV series?

I somehow missed reading the Harry Potter book series when I was younger. So, I am part way through the illustrated Harry Potter editions and loving it!

Q: Favourite holiday destination?

This is a tough one as I love to travel and have been fortunate to visit many incredible places around the world. I would have to say… Italy, for the food, wine, culture, architecture, and history.