The ongoing effects of the Christchurch mosque attacks on close family members will be examined in a new $100,000 study.

A team led by University of Otago, Christchurch researcher Dr Ruqayya Sulaiman-Hill will study the psychological, physical, cultural and social effects of supporting loved ones who were at the two mosques during the March 15, 2019 shootings.

Dr Sulaiman-Hill's team hopes to interview an estimated 250 adult family members of survivors.

The study will also involve in-laws of those who died, acknowledging the strong sense of family responsibility common in Muslim communities, as many moved to Christchurch to provide support to close relatives after the attack.

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Dr Sulaiman-Hill says preliminary interviews with the loved ones of survivors have identified significant impacts.

Researchers will study the psychological, physical, cultural and social effects of supporting loved ones who were at the two mosques during the March 15, 2019 shootings.
Researchers will study the psychological, physical, cultural and social effects of supporting loved ones who were at the two mosques during the March 15, 2019 shootings.

"We know those injured or present in the mosques had highly traumatic experiences and many people believed they were about to die," she said.

"Anyone from these groups are likely to be at risk of mental health disorders so we want to also understand the impact that living with these survivors has had on their close family members, which is likely to also be significant and prolonged."

Clinical psychiatrists and psychologists, Muslim research assistants and specialist mental health nurses are part of the study group.

Participants will be provided with appropriate mental health services and referrals for any other supports identified through the study.

The Canterbury Medical Research Foundation (CMRF) has just awarded almost $1 million in funding to local health researchers, including more than $92,000 to the mosque attacks study.

This year's funded projects include studies on heart failure, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, cystic fibrosis, Legionnaire's disease and pneumonia.

CMRF chairman Geoff Cranko says the foundation has provided $30m in funding to Canterbury-based medical researchers since its inception 60 years ago.

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"The research we fund makes a difference in the short, medium and long term, not just to health researchers but also to patients and families in the region and across New Zealand," he said.

Cranko says the CMRF is able to fund projects that improve and save lives because of the ongoing generous support of the Canterbury community and its donors.

"Due to Covid-19, the funding of medical research is really critical right now," he added.

"Although resource is being made available for research related to the virus, other diseases do not simply disappear in the meantime. It is important the CMRF continues to play its part in ensuring the health and well-being of Cantabrians by funding research excellence."