Substance use disorder is a growing problem affecting racialized men in Canada. There is increased awareness and understanding about why and how racialized men use substances, yet little is known about effective treatments and interventions. The project will use anti-racist research methods to design and study an intervention to support a racialized group, South Asian men who use substances. The team will consist of Punjabi men who use substances, community organization members, health care providers, and researchers. Using a rigorous facilitated approach that highlights evidence from literature and draws upon members’ life experiences, the team will design an intervention to support South Asian men who use substances in the Lower Mainland. Once the design is complete, the intervention will be studied in a feasibility study and pilot randomized controlled trial (RCT) in preparation and justification for a full scale RCT.
The standard of care for AML patients was introduced in the 1970s and has not significantly changed since then. Patients suffering from acute myeloid leukemia (AML) with unfavourable genetics are characterized by dismal overall survival due to poor treatment response to standard chemotherapy. In this research proposal, I aim to better understand the energy metabolism of high-risk AML cells and explore this as a novel treatment avenue. My research will create a rational for future clinical trials to improve patient care and develop novel treatment perspectives for a patient collective with a bleak prognosis.
A desperate need exists to develop technology to regenerate sperm that can be used for in vitro fertilization (IVF) among men who lack sperm production, such as pediatric cancer survivors. In Canada, approximately 2,440 boys aged less than 15 will be diagnosed with cancer each year. Fortunately, the field of oncology has made significant improvements in survival rates, which are estimated to be 83%. However, treatments will render up to 97% of paediatric cancer survivors infertile with no sperm production, despite over 75% eventually desiring to have biological children. While stem cells (sperm precursors) can be retrieved prior to cancer therapies, no technology currently exists to regenerate sperm, which is required to achieve a pregnancy. This project proposes to utilize single cell sequencing and along with state-of-the-art computational modelling to reveal molecules and pathways that are key regulators of developing sperm from stem cells. These findings will be screened and tested to identify critical molecules that help generate sperm in 3D bioprinted structures. Results from this study will contribute to developing the understanding and technology to regenerate sperm for men lacking any ability to father biological children.
Chronic lung diseases present a serious health challenge for Canadian children and youth. For example, cystic fibrosis (CF) shortens life expectancy and carries an enormous treatment cost (>$250,000 per person per year). Another example is asthma, which affects nearly 1 in 7 Canadians under age 20. Improving the lives of people with these conditions is possible but requires accurate detection and close monitoring of their lung disease.
Unfortunately, the tests available to paediatric respiratory physicians are often difficult for children to perform and not sensitive enough to detect or subtle disease. This significantly limits physicians’ ability to detect, treat and monitor lung disease in children and must change.
My research program focuses on the development of easy-to-perform and sensitive tools to help physicians diagnose and monitor lung disease in children. Specifically, I am an expert in techniques known as hyperpolarised xenon lung MRI (XeMRI) and multiple breath washout testing (MBW).
During tenure of this Health Professional-Investigator award, I will lead research focused on improving the XeMRI and MBW techniques and using these new tools clinically to improve the health of children with lung diseases.
Crystal meth is a powerful stimulant that is increasingly implicated in the ongoing overdose crisis in BC. Despite steadily increasing rates of crystal meth detection in overdose deaths, little is understood about the specific role that it may be playing in the overdose crisis, and treatment options for those suffering from crystal meth use disorder (MUD) are limited.
One class of medications that has previously shown some promise in the treatment of MUD are prescription stimulants such as those used to treat ADHD. While research in this area remains inconclusive, there is some suggestion that these medications may play a helpful role in the treatment of MUD, especially among patients with an overlapping diagnosis of opioid use disorder.
This proposal will employ a variety of research methodologies to explore two related questions: (1) Can we identify patients who use crystal meth and opioids that are at particularly high risk of overdose, and (2) Are prescription stimulants a helpful tool in the treatment of MUD in a population of patients who use opioids? These results will have significant implications for both healthcare providers and those suffering from MUD, at a time where new tools are sorely needed.
Individuals with both psychiatric and substance use disorders, defined as concurrent disorders, are more complex to diagnose and treat due to several interacting health and social challenges. In the absence of appropriate treatment people with concurrent disorders are at high risk for increased morbidity and mortality. A growing body of evidence recommends abandoning the traditional single-disease health model in favour of a multimorbidity approach to care. Despite available evidence, important gaps persist in our understanding of how individual and health system context influence service utilization and outcomes for people with complex multimorbid disorders (e.g. concurrent disorders). The proposed research will establish a prospective cohort of individuals with a concurrent disorder. Individuals will complete a series of brief questionnaires and provide consent to use their personal identifiers for linkage to a number of health databases. This research offers a unique opportunity examine health outcomes associated with multi-morbidities and understand patterns of health care utilization overtime. This research will advance knowledge to inform best practices and service reforms for the optimal delivery of care in BC.
Anxiety disorders are the most common of all mental health conditions. They affect 20 percent of pregnant and postpartum people, and are associated with significant distress and life interference for sufferers, as well as negative consequences for the fetus and infant.
Little, if any, routine screening for these disorders is conducted. This is mostly because accurate screening tools have yet to be identified. The majority of screening studies have used poor quality research methodology or have assessed measures which appeared to perform too poorly to be recommended for widespread use. The result of this is that perinatal anxiety disorders often go unidentified, resulting in continued suffering and life impairment.
The purpose of this research is to identify one or more accurate and reliable perinatal anxiety disorder screening tool(s). To do this, we will conduct a large scale study of pregnant and postpartum people in which we assess the accuracy of the most promising perinatal anxiety disorder screening tools.
This research will provide important information to inform healthcare providers, policymakers and scientists, about the most effective approach to screening for anxiety disorders during pregnancy and the postpartum period.
This Child, Youth & Family Mental Health Impact Grant is co-funded through a partnership between Mental Health Research Canada, Michael Smith Health Research BC, and the BC Ministry of Children and Family Development.
While COVID-19 has affected the mental health of all Canadians, those with complex family needs have struggled even more. The strain is especially great on parents and caregivers of children and youth with support needs experiencing (or at risk of) developmental delay or disability.
Research studies about the impact of the pandemic on parental mental health tend to view parents of children with support needs as a homogenous group, or they tend to explore separate diagnostic categories (such as Autism Spectrum Disorder and medical complexity).
Lead investigators Dr. Jennifer Baumbusch and Angela Clancy will not replicate existing studies but will extend what is currently known, particularly in the context of British Columbia.
The investigators and their team will compare mental health impacts with a larger pan-Canadian sample. They will also compare mental health impacts within the sample of parents of children with support needs based on diagnostic categories, individual factors of parent and child (such as gender, age, race, ethnicity, education, family structure and household income), and community factors (such as geographic location and size of community) — and compare between these categories.
The goal is to identify specific strengths and vulnerabilities of different sub-groups that can be used to customize supports.
The BC research team will also explore existing knowledge about programs (such as peer-to-peer and one-on-one counselling) and promising practices (such as virtual/tele-health and enhanced respite) that help mitigate mental health impacts and foster family resilience.
Progress Update – March 2022
Lead investigators Dr. Jennifer Baumbusch and Angela Clancy, together with Chelsea Jokisch, a patient with lived experience, share their key discoveries and insights so far, in this webinar hosted by Mental Health Research Canada.
End of Award Update – May 2023
Most exciting outputs
In June 2022, 236 parents and caregivers of children with support needs living in British Columbia completed a survey exploring the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their mental health. Almost 60% of respondents felt that their mental health was worse than before the pandemic. More than 50% indicated that the main emotion they felt over the previous two weeks was anxiety, followed by stressed, and lonely or isolated. The main source of stress over the previous two weeks was coping with uncertainty/not knowing what would happen. The top rated coping strategy was enjoying outdoor activities, including going for a walk or exercising outside.
We were able to bring together a new community to work on this project, which included people with lived experience, leaders from non-profit organizations, clinicians, and researchers. Through regular dialogue and meetings, we collaborated on all aspects of the research process and are well positioned to continue to work together on future research priorities.
As the BC Ministry of Children and Family Development was a partner on this project, we have shared the results and discussed recommendations with them. Our team members who are clinicians and work in non-profit organizations are able to use the results in their practices and programs.
We plan to compare our results with a sample of adults who are not parents/caregivers of children with support needs in order to better ascertain the impacts on this group.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown failings in the care provided to older adults in care homes and a clear need for the voices of residents and their family to inform positive change. A group of residents, their family and friend carers, staff, physicians, nurses, leaders and researchers in care homes at Fraser Health will work together to agree on the most important research questions for people that live and work in care homes to improve the care that is given. Priority setting activities will be held with the goal to discuss key research topics and decide together the most important research questions in care homes at Fraser Health. Undertaking these activities also will build strong relationships between the different partners. The activities will be conducted so that the different partners in care homes, such as residents, their family and friends and staff, can contribute to the talks about research that is most important to them. The different research partners will also talk about plans for ongoing research projects to answer the top research questions together in the care homes at Fraser Health.
Team members: Adriaan Windt (Fraser Health); Laura Kadowaki (Simon Fraser University); Lucy Kervin (Simon Fraser University); Emma Leong (Kwantlen Polytechnic University); Annette Berndt (Fraser Health); Catherine Youngren (Fraser Health); Akber Mithani (Fraser Health); Suzanne Fox (Fraser Health); Clayon Hamilton (Fraser Health and Simon Fraser University); Valorie Crooks (Simon Fraser University); Nick Petropolis (Fraser Health); Amber Jarvie (Fraser Health); Gita Rafiee (Fraser Health); Anita Wahl (Fraser Health); Dan Levitt (Tabor Home Society)
The impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the scale of bereavement and those bereaved is becoming apparent, with an estimated 9 people affected by bereavement for each COVID-19 death. Social distancing measures have decreased opportunities for people who are dying to connect with their loved ones, and for bereaved people to access social supports such as traditional rituals and support groups. A potential impact of this is prolonged or complicated grief.
This project aims to help bereaved people access effective supports. We propose hosting a provincial roundtable discussion, where every participant can contribute equally to a structured conversation on how existing bereavement services could be improved. We will invite service providers, bereaved people, policy makers, researchers, and others doing relevant work to participate in the roundtable. The discussion will be guided by recently collected information from bereaved people and service providers in BC about their experiences and views of bereavement care.
After the discussion, the participants will work together to recommend actions to improve the bereavement experience in BC. The recommendations can also be used to inform the development of supportive policies and future research.
Team members: Marney Thompson (Victoria Hospice Society); Kathleen Yue (BC Centre for Palliative Care); Rachel Carter (BC Centre for Palliative Care); Nicolas Starkes (UBC Okanagan); Heather Mohan (Camp Kerry Society); Jessica Lowe (BC Bereavement Helpline); Shelly Cory (Canadian Virtual Hospice); D’Arcy Wingrove; Annette Berndt