Defining research priorities for trauma-informed design of digital health interventions in sexual health

There has been an increase in the adoption of digital health interventions, especially among people with sensitive and potentially stigmatizing sexual health challenges. While digital health technologies can be convenient and cost-effective, there are concerns that negative online activities could inadvertently trigger emotional trauma among end-user patients. Trauma-informed design has emerged in response to the threats of technology-mediated trauma. Yet, this important field is lacking clear research direction on the best and meaningful ways to conduct research that satisfies the collective interest of all the stakeholders that are typically involved in the design and deployment of digital health interventions. This proposed interdisciplinary stakeholder engagement brings together experts in digital health, trauma-informed care, and patient partners in sexual health to explore research priorities on trauma-informed design of digital technologies. This project will identify key research priorities on trauma-informed design that reflect the collective interest and priorities of the stakeholders.

Sharing knowledge to connect, collaborate and co-create Dementia-inclusive Spaces for Community Access, Participation, and Engagement (DemSCAPE)

The Dementia-inclusive Spaces for Community Access, Participation, and Engagement (DemSCAPE) study is a two-year research project (2021-2023), that brings together researchers, trainees, advocacy organization members and municipal partners in Metro Vancouver and Prince George. The project identified patterns in activities outside the home by people with dementia. It also explored how the environmental features of the neighbourhood influenced participants’ mobility and community participation.

To promote community engagement and increase awareness, we will create educational activities with people with lived experiences and community and municipal partners. These activities will showcase the project findings by video and photo exhibits to the general public virtually. Moreover, we will have two public discussion sessions called World Cafés to encourage conversations, collaborative learning and new ideas with in-person video and photo exhibits and interactive games. Our aim is to enhance understanding of the features of a dementia-inclusive environment and advocate for positive changes.

This project will have a significant impact in increasing awareness of dementia-inclusive communities.

Celebrating World Thrombosis Day: Raising Awareness to Save Lives

Our bodies need to be able to form blood clots after injuries such as cuts; these clots are essential because they keep us from bleeding to death. However, blood clots can also form in parts of our bodies where they are not supposed to. The formation of these “wrong” blood clots is called thrombosis, and is the cause of many life-threatening conditions, including heart attacks, strokes, and deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Thrombosis is the cause of death for 1 in 4 people worldwide. October 13 is declared as “World Thrombosis Day” – a day dedicated to raising awareness and educating the public about thrombosis, how to prevent it, and how to recognize the signs of a medical emergency. The purpose of this Reach Grant application is to support a “Café Scientifique” – an openly accessible and inclusive information session aimed at the general public. Our team of physicians and blood researchers will host a panel discussion on World Thrombosis Day (October 13, 2023) to inform the public about the prevention and management of heart attacks, strokes and other thrombosis-related conditions. A better public awareness of thrombosis will help to reduce thrombosis-related sickness and disability in our communities, and ultimately save lives.

Targeting rural healthcare professionals, trainees and patients in disseminating neuroscience-based research

Ischemic brain injury refers to brain injuries that occur from a lack of blood flow and oxygen delivery to the brain. Current clinical management strategies and therapeutics have shown little effect on patient outcomes. As such, urgent research is ongoing with promising breakthroughs in this field by a multidisciplinary group of researchers in British Columbia. Given the urgency of disseminating research findings, this project will involve knowledge translation activities that target three main groups of knowledge users: a) healthcare providers in rural and remote settings in BC; b) healthcare professional trainees; and c) patients, caregivers and the general public. By undertaking targeted knowledge translation activities to each of these groups, the implementation of research findings will be equitable (for all British Columbians including those from rural settings), long-lasting (healthcare professional trainees will be equipped up-to-date knowledge) and patient-centered (disseminating the findings directly to patients and the public).

Making medications fit for older adults: advancing the science and implementation of deprescribing guidelines

As people age, they can end up taking many medications. Certain medications might have made sense when they were started. But as people get older, some medications may no longer be needed, or may be unsafe. It makes sense to consider stopping such medications. It can be tough for prescribers and patients to decide when and how to stop a medication. From 2014 to 2017, we developed guidelines and resources to help patients and prescribers make decisions about stopping medications. Our guidelines and resources are used in Canada and across the world. However, guidelines and resources need to be up to date with the most current evidence. There also needs to be ongoing strategies to ensure guidelines are used in the real world. This project, led from UBC Vancouver, will first survey patients and prescribers to assess needs and priorities for guidelines on stopping medications. We will then update our guidelines based on needs and current evidence. Finally, we will design knowledge translation materials together with patients and prescribers (called “co-design”), and spread the word about our updated resources. We strive to help patients/prescribers decide when and how to stop medications and improve well-being of older adults.

The contribution of metabotropic glutamate receptor 5 (mGluR5) to impaired control of brain blood flow in Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a major crisis and a huge burden on healthcare system. It causes a decrease in memory and affects women more than men. The memory decline in Alzheimer’s is linked to poor blood supply to the brain. The causes for poor supply are unknown but it starves brain cells of essential materials leading to improper function. I will study how a molecule present in the cells of the brain called metabotropic glutamate receptor 5 (mGluR5) contributes to the poor blood supply to the brain and the development of Alzheimer’s symptoms. My group at UBC is interested in mGluR5 because it attaches to the “toxic molecules” commonly found in Alzheimer’s brain. I will use mice sick with Alzheimer’s and samples from Alzheimer’s patients to study how the attachment of the “toxic molecules” to mGluR5 can lead to the short supply of blood to the brain and memory loss. I will also study if the role of mGluR5 in Alzheimer’s is different between males and females. In addition, I will test if the drugs that act on mGluR5 can help Alzheimer’s patients by correcting blood supply to the brain and improving memory. I also will work with patient and community partners to help interpret and communicate my findings and guide future work.

Integration of shared decision-making in heart failure pharmacotherapy

Around 375,000 Canadians live with heart failure with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF). HFrEF worsens quality of life, and leads to hospitalizations and death. There is no cure for HFrEF, but it can be managed with medications. Many people with HFrEF are unaware of the medications available to treat HFrEF and do not receive the best medications for them. Decision aids are tools that can help inform patients about available treatment options so they can be better involved in shared decisions about their health. This study will be conducted at UBC and will recruit from five Canadian HF clinics. This study will help us better understand what matters most to people with HF when making decisions about their medications, and use this to develop an effective decision aid to support shared decision-making. To do this, we will conduct interviews of people with HF and their healthcare professionals. After this, we will ask people with HF to complete a special online survey called a discrete-choice experiment to understand what matters most to them, and by how much, when making decisions about their HF medications. Then, we will develop a web-based decision aid and test how it improves the quality of medication-related decisions and quality of life.

Unravelling the complexity of familial influences that shape children’s obesity-related behaviors over time

The transition from elementary to secondary school is a challenging time for children as many obesity-related behaviors tend to worsen in this period. My research will examine how the familial environment can support a healthy transition; specifically, how parenting practices influence children’s choices with respect to diet, physical activity and sedentary time. I will first synthesize the published literature about how mothers’ and fathers’ parenting practices relate to children’s obesity-related behaviors. To gather real-world data, I will then use a combination of interviews, surveys, and wearable tech (accelerometers) with 150 British Columbian families to assess their parenting practices and children’s obesity-related behaviors daily for 14 consecutive days during elementary school, and again in secondary school. These data will be analyzed to identify how variations in parenting practices affect children’s behaviors day-to-day before and after the school transition, and the interviews will help understand more deeply how familial factors influence children’s behaviors. Together, my findings will guide the development of parenting interventions to help children maintain healthy behaviors during adolescence.

Buddy Up for men’s mental health: Engaging men through mutual help and social connection

Approximately one in five men struggle with mental health challenges each year; however, men often experience unique barriers that prevent them from seeking help or accessing treatment. The COVID-19 pandemic has placed additional pressure on many men and efforts are urgently needed to tailor services and norm men’s mental health help-seeking. While asking for help may be viewed by some men as a sign of weakness, helping others is often perceived as a strength that aligns with masculine ideals. By emphasizing the benefits of mutual help, it may be possible to equip men with the skills and confidence to support other men’s mental health challenges, as well as their own. The aims of this research are to explore men’s mutual help for mental health challenges and develop an online intervention to promote mental health and social connection through shared activities (e.g. physical activity). We will conduct interviews with Canadian men and use the findings to inform the development of the e-intervention. Men will be recruited to test the intervention and provide feedback. Findings will provide important information about men’s mutual help for mental health challenges and opportunities to norm mental health promotion.

Making room at the table: Understanding the mealtime experiences of racialized residents and their families in long-term care

Mealtimes in long-term care (LTC) homes are important for visible minority (e.g. Chinese, South Asian) residents’ well-being and keeps them connected with their families who help at mealtimes. Visiting restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic meant that some families could not provide mealtime care which had negative effects on residents and families. There is very little research on the mealtime experience for visible minority residents and families and even less on their experiences during the pandemic, even though almost one-quarter of Canadians are from a visible minority group. It is important to understand these experiences to improve mealtimes in LTC homes. This qualitative study will answer the question: what are the mealtime experiences of visible minority residents and their families in LTC? The objectives of this study are to: 1) understand the mealtime experiences of visible minority residents and their families; 2) understand how these mealtime experiences are impacted by social, political, and economic factors; 3) identify ways to improve mealtime care for visible minority residents and families; and 4) share the research findings with stakeholders to improve mealtime care in LTC homes.