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Research Summaries

Our research spans a diverse range of specialities and populations with a specific focus on the management and prevention of serious mental illness.

Adolescents

The Recovery College at Ontario Shores is the oldest Recovery College in Canada. Recovery Colleges provide participants with access to learning that complements, but does not replace, clinical treatment for mental illness, enhances personal recovery and a sense connection with peers. Narrative accounts of recovery stories suggest that when young adults participate in Recovery College it instills a sense of hope, belongingness with peers and helps them to deal with mental illness stigma.

Over the last two years, in collaboration with the Canadian Mental Health Association, we have seen Recovery Colleges grow from 12 to 27 across Canada. We have also been the first in Canada to implement Recovery Colleges for students at different post-secondary settings including Durham College, George Brown, Ontario Tech University, McMaster University and University of Toronto Scarborough Campus. Dr. Simone Arbour - an internationally recognized expert in Recovery research - is leading this work. She is currently evaluating the impact of Recovery Colleges on post-secondary students. Dr. Arbour is also leading a large-scale research study to examine the impact of experiential learning on stigma towards mental illness in terms of attitudes and behaviours.

In partnership with Ryerson University, our researcher, Jenifer Madore is conducting a qualitative study to explore the experiences and unmet needs of transgender and gender non-confirming youth accessing mental health outpatient services.


Forensics

Our research aims to better understand patients’ recovery journey as individuals found Not Criminally Responsible and under the care of the Ontario Review Board have additional recovery tasks beyond the general psychiatric population. For example, we are currently exploring patients’ sense of subjective restrictiveness (i.e.,  how restricted they feel given the legal, environmental, and procedural limitations placed on them due to their involvement in the criminal justice  and mental health systems). Additionally, other projects include investigating the impact of bias in documentation on clinical decision-making and judgment and validating a risk assessment tool that is intended to identify patients who may be at higher risk for an unauthorized leave of absence (ULOA).

Geriatric

The Geriatrics research program is built upon the comprehensive clinical services delivered at Ontario Shores, both in inpatient and outpatient settings.  Research partnerships, most notably with the Toronto Dementia Research Alliance and Ontario Tech University, have opened up exciting venues of collaborations with renowned researchers, clinical scientists and trainees.  Multi-site research aims to understand how different treatment modalities would improve patients and their caregivers’ physical, mental, and psychosocial outcomes, and allow clinicians to improve and personalize care with medication, brain stimulation, psychotherapy and other non-pharmacological interventions and technological solutions.

Two clinical trials focussing on improving standard approaches for treating agitation in dementia, a core symptom of Alzheimer's disease, are currently being conducted by Dr. Burhan. Escitalopram for Agitation in Alzheimer's Disease (S-CitAD) aims to identify patients early in their diagnosis, while they are living at home or in the community and apply a comprehensive psychosocial approach to help with the management of agitation. Nabilone for Agitation Blinded Intervention Trial (NAB-IT), on the other hand, aims to use the medication Nabilone to reduce agitation among individuals with Alzheimer's disease living in inpatient units, long term care and/or residential facilities.

Population Health

Our research stretches beyond the acute setting and aims to improve population health and care in the community. Dr. Rudoler, our Research Chair in Population Health and Innovation in Mental Health, is a health services researcher whose work focuses on population mental health and mental health services.  He is currently leading a pan-Canadian study of supply of and access to community-based psychiatric care, and research investigating access to high quality primary care for people with serious mental illness. Dr. Rudoler and Dr. Zhu are also using hospital and population data to measure the performance of mental health service delivery and inform quality improvement efforts.

 

Artificial Intelligence

Our research on Artificial Intelligence (AI) contributes to the advancement of health informatics through research in computing and information technology to improve Canadians' health care and global health and wellness. Using predictive AI models our researchers are building physiological markers to detect when a patient is more likely to become aggressive. This will help mental health-care workers respond empathetically, therapeutically and non-reactively in the face of non-emergent risk, threats or stressful situations.


Schizophrenia

In this domain, our research focusses on understanding the mechanisms for how evidence-based psychotherapies, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), and Cognitive Remediation can improve lives of individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia and/or schizophrenia related disorders as well as exploring predictors of re-admission of persons living with schizophrenia.

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