Early identification of bipolar disorder in adolescents and young adults: Establishing a collaborative research agenda.

Bipolar disorder (BD) is a psychiatric condition that affects about 2 percent of Canadians. Individuals with BD experience extreme changes in their mood, as well as their energy and ability to function. Research from our group and others has shown that BD often goes unrecognized for years, making it hard for affected individuals to receive the care they need. This can result in negative consequences including inappropriate treatment, more hospitalizations, and an increased risk of suicide. Factors that may play a role in this delay are complex and include, among others, the presence of co-occurring conditions, inadequate use of screening tools, and limited access to specialized mental health services. Therefore, finding the best strategies to address this challenge requires collaboration among multiple individuals and institutions. Our project will establish a collaborative network of healthcare leaders, clinicians, researchers, and international experts, as well as those with lived experiences of BD and their families. By organizing a series of workshops and meetings, we will co-create a research agenda aimed at finding ways to reduce the delay in the diagnosis and treatment of BD among youth and young adults in BC and beyond.

Clinical impact of 24/7 on-site staff radiologist coverage at a level 1 trauma center in British Columbia

Background: Between 2019 and 2020, the total number of emergency department visits in BC was 1,640,067. On October 1, 2013, Vancouver General Hospital started a program where specialist doctors capable of reading X-ray, ultrasound and computed tomography were available in the hospital around the clock. The mission of this new program was to improve access to diagnostic tests and improve patient care.


Methods: A team of physicians, researchers, patients and community partners are collaborating on this research to assess the impact of this new model of service by comparing time it takes for patients to get diagnostic tests, time it takes for reporting these diagnostic tests, patient length of stay in emergency, and the overall cost of care. We will also study if there are any differences in care and outcomes based on sex and race of the patient. We will review consecutive 10 years of the emergency room and radiology department records.


Importance: Our research results will help us improve timely patient care, efficiency and conserve hospital resources. The results of our proposed research will provide an example for enhanced and culturally fitting patient care which can be applied to emergency department services throughout Canada.

Bridging the knowledge-to-practice gap: Co-developing a Design Jam for building a Learning Health System at Vancouver Coastal Health

Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) delivers over 150 programs and services in community settings across the region. Organizational learning to continuously improve health care is limited by the complexity of this delivery model, current policies and processes, barriers to coordinating data systems, and insufficient capacity for data analysis, and evidence mobilization to inform decisions. VCH is exploring the Learning Health System (LHS) framework to bridge the knowledge-to-action gap and our team aims to facilitate that effort. This proposed stakeholder engagement project — bringing together teams of researchers, VCH care providers and decision makers, patients, and community members — will explore practical strategies for co-creating a systemwide LHS for community health at VCH. Our objectives are to: 1) Organize a Design Jam to collectively identify stakeholder needs and priorities, system gaps, and actionable strategies for co-creating a Community LHS; and 2) Form a LHS Community of Practice to support long-term knowledge exchange and research collaboration. Through meeting these goals, our project will produce a shared vision, an action plan, and a Community of Practice to support the long-term co-development of a Community LHS at VCH.

Team members: Margaret Chen Mei Lin (UBC); David Hall (Providence Health Care); Brittany Bingham (Vancouver Coastal Health); Andreas Pilarinos (Vancouver Coastal Health); Shannon Field (Vancouver Coastal Health); Tracy Windsor (Canadian Mental Health Association); Elaina Moss (Canadian Mental Health Association); Steven Barnes (UBC); Sue MacDonald (VCH); Regina Casey (UBC); John Higenbottam (UBC); Andrew Day (Vancouver Coastal Health); Alexander Rutherford (Simon Fraser University); Stephania Manusha (Vancouver Coastal Health); Joleen Wright (Vancouver Coastal Health); Jae-Yung Kwon (University of Victoria); Ben Fair (UBC); Jas Dhahan (Simon Fraser University).

The association of genetic risk factors with morphology and outcomes in interstitial lung disease

Interstitial lung disease (ILD) is a diverse group of illnesses with a variety of causes. The current approach to diagnosing ILD depends on the specific patterns observed on imaging studies (CT scan) and lung biopsy. There is increasing evidence that an individual’s genetics play a complex and important role in determining disease behaviour across different ILD subtypes. This study will examine whether common genetic risk factors predispose patients to different forms of ILD, influence treatment response, and predict prognosis. Investigating these genetic risk factors will improve our understanding of the biology that drives ILD and will help to develop a better system for ILD classification and diagnosis.

Economic evaluation of the use of expanded criteria donor kidneys pre-emptively to improve the critical organ shortage

Kidney transplantation can be life saving for people with end-stage kidney disease at a lower cost than the only other alternative which is dialysis treatments. Unfortunately, there are not enough kidneys available for transplant. This means that until we can improve the kidney supply, patients will continue to have to wait on a waiting list and may die in the process.

Kidneys from older donors have been successfully used for transplant, but at a higher risk. This higher risk discourages some patients and physicians from accepting these kidneys for transplant. This results in kidneys being discarded that could otherwise have saved lives.

However, these kidneys will have better outcomes if they are given to patients before they ever need to start dialysis, instead of our current practice which is to wait until someone is at the top of the waitlist after years of dialysis. This research project will use economic models to study how allocating kidneys from older donors to some patients before they ever need dialysis might impact the overall kidney supply and patient outcomes. This research will help inform future health care policy which may improve organ supply for patients waiting for a life-saving transplant.

Exploring Indigenous community access to airway health prevention and care: Towards the development of community-driven interventions

Indigenous peoples across Canada continue to be disproportionately impacted by respiratory diseases (RD) (i.e. asthma, COPD, long COVID); however, there is limited evidence describing their Indigenous peoples respiratory healthcare needs and ways in which respiratory healthcare services can be improved. Given this knowledge gap, this project seeks to engage Indigenous peoples with RD to understand their experiences living with RD; to explore Indigenous peoples’ healthcare experiences; and to identify promising practices that can improve the treatment experiences and outcomes among Indigenous peoples with RD. In order to accomplish this, we plan to hold a minimum of five talking circles with Indigenous peoples with RD across urban and rural areas of the Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) region. A graphic facilitator will guide a journey mapping exercise with community members in order to understand community members’ experiences when attempting to access services, while also elucidating promising practices in the treatment of RD. In addition to the benefits that this project may have for the health of Indigenous peoples in the VCH region, findings also have implications for Indigenous peoples living in other parts of British Columbia.

Team members: Christopher Carlsten (UBC and Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute); Andreas Pilarinos (Vancouver Coastal Health and UBC); Shannon Field (Vancouver Coastal Health and UBC); Karen Rideout (Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute); Pat Camp (UBC); Phalgun Joshi (Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute); Shiloh Joe (Sechelt First Nation); Coreen Paul (Musqueam First Nation); Michael Dumont (Lu’ma Medical Centre); Krisztina Vasarhelyi (Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute and Simon Fraser University); Roberta Price (Snuneymuxw and Cowichan First Nations); Leslie Bonshor (Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute and Simon Fraser University;)

Implementing quality indicators through clinician and patient online toolkits to improve rehabilitation care and outcomes after hip and knee replacement for osteoarthritis

Each year, more than 18,000 British Columbians have joint replacement surgery for hip or knee osteoarthritis. Many face challenges in getting timely, quality rehabilitation before, and especially after surgery. I have developed quality indicators that set minimum standards of rehabilitation care for joint replacements. Focusing on 10 of these quality indicators for care after surgery, my team of clinicians, patients and researchers have created online toolkits to help make these indicators available to patients and clinicians who provide joint replacement rehabilitation in BC. The toolkits contain resources such as checklists, videos, and posters. After first testing our study procedures, I will run a study to see if the toolkits make a difference in overall quality of rehabilitation care and lead to better experiences and results for patients. Patients, clinicians and those who make decisions about healthcare services, will be part of every stage of this work. I will share my findings widely to researchers, clinicians and patients locally and across Canada. This research will lead to better, more consistent care for patients and improve the joint replacement rehabilitation services available in BC.

Informing the COVID-19 Response for Vancouver’s Urban Indigenous Population Using Community-driven Methods and Big Data Analytics

COVID-19 poses a significant threat to Urban Indigenous populations. To identify gaps and improve the response, Vancouver Coastal Health Aboriginal Health will use a community-driven approach to examine patient data collected within Vancouver health centres using the Vancouver Community Analytics Tool (VCAT), along with the advice of key urban Indigenous community organizations and stakeholders. Analyzed data will be used to develop an extensive data profile of Indigenous peoples who access care in the Vancouver region, including COVID-19 risk, comorbidities, and impacts to health service access. We will review the current Urban Indigenous COVID-19 response in Vancouver with existing networks to develop recommendations for BC that are driven by and for the Urban Indigenous community.

Evaluating the response to British Columbia’s overdose crisis within Vancouver Coastal Health: Moving research into practice

The opioid crisis has been hardest felt in British Columbia (BC), which declared a public health emergency in 2016. Last year, there were 1510 drug overdose deaths recorded in BC, which represented 4.5 times the deaths from motor vehicle accidents. The overdose crisis has been largely driven by increasing contamination of the illicit drug supply with powerful synthetic opioids (e.g., fentanyl). Despite efforts to expand harm reduction services and treatments for opioid use disorder, these have had limited success in curbing the current crisis. Innovative strategies to mitigate the crisis have become an urgent public health priority. This includes a critical need to evaluate the response to the overdose crisis to help develop and implement a comprehensive addiction treatment program across BC and ultimately prevent future drug-related fatalities. Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) provides services to more than 1.25 million residents in BC (nearly 25% of the population), and has been a primary player at the heart of the overdose crisis response. As such, alongside the newly implemented VCH Regional Addiction Program, VCH has identified key policy-related challenges that the proposed work will seek to address: prevent fatal overdoses, reduce drug-related harms, increase access to low barrier services, and improve integration of harm reduction and treatment. The proposed work will consist of several overlapping components to achieve the overarching goal to establish comprehensive and integrated addiction care programs across the region. This will include evaluating the impacts of 'naturally occurring' interventions (e.g., supervised consumption sites) and efficacy of novel clinical therapies, conducting health system and program evaluation to identify gaps in care and healthcare provider capacity, and engaging in integrated knowledge translation to mobilize research into evidence-based policies and practices across the health system.

The implementation of an Indigenous cultural safety initiative within a large urban hospital in Vancouver, British Columbia


Executive sponsor:

  • Patricia Daly

Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) Aboriginal Health is implementing an Indigenous Cultural Safety initiative with two units at Vancouver General Hospital (VGH) to improve the experience of Aboriginal patients and clients at VGH. The units, which include 350 VGH staff members, will complete a number of activities during March 2018 – March 2019.

This project will examine the implementation of the cultural safety initiative through a research team guided by two-eyed seeing, Indigenous cultural principles and implementation science frameworks for the purpose of guiding future spread of cultural safety training across diverse health authority settings.

The learnings from this pilot project will be used to spread the approach to other VGH departments and ultimately other hospital sites and facilities across BC. A number of hospital-wide and unit-specific activities will be piloted, falling into four streams:

  • Creating a welcome space: Visible acknowledgements of local First Nations (artwork, signage, booth displays etc).
  • Culturally competent VGH staff: Three hours Indigenous Cultural Safety training, 30 minute education sessions, monthly presentations by local chiefs, staff learning resources, webinars, and creation of advocacy roles.
  • Cultural resources and policies: Communications, patient cultural safety/support, and traditions and protocols booklets.
  • Access to cultural supports: Elders and Aboriginal patient navigators.

The indicators of success will be jointly developed in partnership with an Aboriginal advisory group to be convened at the conception of the study. It is key that the indicators of successful transformation reflect the needs of the Aboriginal patients served by the system. This will include indicators such as staff and patients reporting an observed change in the look and feel of VGH, improvement in cultural safety knowledge and understanding among VGH pilot unit staff level, staff perceptions of how practice will change as a result of attending training and education sessions, and staff perceptions of their ability to advocate for Aboriginal patient issues (allyship).