Digital interventions to improve social connectedness and mental wellbeing of vulnerable older adults during COVID-19 and beyond

Indira Riadi, as a PhD candidate and student lead under the supervision of Dr. Theodore Cosco, is being co-funded by Health Research BC and Mitacs as part of a studentship program led by Mental Health Research Canada in partnership with the Mitacs Accelerate program, designed to develop the brightest Master’s students conducting research in mental health.


During her internship, Indira will work with the West End Seniors Network, Vancouver’s second largest not-for-profit seniors centre, to identify ways to improve the social lives and mental wellbeing of ethnic and gender/sexual minority seniors during COVID-19 and beyond. This project hopes to explore the mental health priorities of these populations, investigate what has been done (with specific emphasis on digital interventions), and identify successful and unsuccessful interventions to help raise social connectedness and alleviate mental distress among marginalized older adults in Vancouver.

The Perception and Utilization of Herbals and Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAMs) Among Older Adults with Arthritis

Research has shown that a growing number of older adults with chronic illness are turning to complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) to manage their pain and chronic illness. But little is known about why people choose these approaches, or how use of complementary and alternative medicine is associated with changes in health status over time. Kristine Votova will address these questions by using powerful and cutting edge statistical tools to analyze data from the Longitudinal Panel of the National Population Health Survey. Her research also involves recruiting older adults to participate in focus groups, aimed at illuminating the perceived effectiveness of CAMs. Votova anticipates that this research – combining quantitative and qualitative techniques – will contribute to a better understanding of the use of complementary and alternative medicine and herbals, particularly by older adults.