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We are one of the country's largest mental health research hospitals as measured by grant funding – $29M in 2019. Our researchers pursue important and innovative work investigating the causes of numerous mental illnesses and develop new ways to treat them and deliver better care.

Our clinicians and researchers continue to deepen our understanding of physical and mental health integration conducting ground-breaking discoveries in a wide range of areas. They are joined in their research by graduate and post-graduate students affiliated with the University of Toronto.

Our research footprint expanded in 2021 with a transformative donation from the Nikean Foundation. The newly created Nikean Psychedelic Psychotherapy Research Centre will study the promise of a new treatment paradigm that has the potential to support patients across a range of mental health disorders.

Details about our current mental health research work are listed by category below.

UHN's research in the area of medical psychiatry explores mental health care and outcomes for those with physical health issues and those undergoing surgery. Areas of specific focus include organ transplantation, bariatric surgery, cardiac surgery, delirium, stroke, medical assistance in dying and sleep. We use innovative research methods including quantitative and qualitative studies, artificial intelligence, and technology-assisted interventions. In addition, several investigators are involved in studying health care worker distress during and adaptation to COVID.

Researchers

Mateusz Zurowski, Linda Liu, Shannon Wright, Suze Berkhout, Kathleen Sheehan, Sanjeev Sockalingam, Raed Hawa, Rima Styra, Susan Abbey, Donna Stewart

Projects

Mateusz Zurowski

Psychological adaptation to COVID; movement and anxiety
UHN MSH AMO COVID innovation fund co-PI with Kenneth Fung title "Pandemic Acceptance and Commitment and Empowerment Response Intervention for font line Health Care Providers (PACER-HCP); private philanthropic funding for Parkinson and anxiety research

Linda Liu

Trauma-informed intervention research, geriatric care, hcp mental health
Sole Expression: A trauma-informed intervention, Public Health Agency of Canada 2017-2021; Co-creating innovative strategies to address the wellbeing of older persons and their healthcare providers during the COVID-19 pandemic, Ontario Rapid Research, Jul 2020-Mar 2021

Shannon Wright

Transplant psychiatry
Canadian Donation and Transplantation Research Program (CDTRP) Innovation Grant; July 2020-December 2021 (likely flexible given COVID)

Suze Berkhout

Transplant, Qualitative Research, Placebo/Nocebo Studies
Frictions of Futurity In Transplant Medicine" (PI) New Frontiers Research Fund (delayed start - May 2021 - May 2023); "Placebo Talks Back"" (co-I) SSHRC, July 2020 - June 2023; "Limits of Cure: Metanarrative Review and Qualitative Pilot Study of Treatment Resistance in Mental Health" (PI); Excellence Funds, August 2020 - August 2021; "Lessons from the Nocebo Effect"" (PI), Medical Education Humanities Matching Grant, January 2020 - January 2021; UHN COVID Coping and Resiliency Employee Support (CARES) Quality Improvement Study (co-PI), UHN/MSH AMO Fund, April 2020 - ongoing

Kathleen Sheehan

Quality of care for those with co-occurring mental and physical health issues, delirium
Using artificial intelligence to identify and predict delirium among hospitalized medical patients, CIHR/NSERC Collaborative Health Research Projects, 2019-2022; Y-STROKE NEEDS Study: Psychosocial and Occupational Outcomes in Young Adults Following Stroke. CIHR Project Grant Priority Announcement, 2020-2021; UHN COVID CARES Program: Rapid Delivery and Evaluation of Mental Health Support Program for Staff. MSH/UHN AMO Innovation Fund, 2020; Frictions of Futurity and Cure in Transplant Medicine: Re-Thinking Central Challenges Through Feminist/Crip Science and Technology Studies New Frontiers in Research Fund – Exploration (Tri-Council), 2020-2023

Sanjeev Sockalingam

Bariatric Surgery and Psychosocial Care
Telephone-based cognitive behavioural therapy for post-operative bariatric surgery patients: a randomized controlled trial, Canadian Institutes for Health Research, June 2017-June 2022

Raed Hawa

Bariatric and sleep psychiatry
Co-Investigator. Measurement of patient-reported outcomes and sleep health domains in the patients undergoing non-cardiac surgeries, for the TRANslating sleep health into QUaLity of recovery. (TRANQUIL) program: A feasibility Study. Singh M (PI) Co-Investigators: Urback O, Hawa R, Lim A, Bhatia A, Tomlinson G, Gandi R.; Co-Investigator. Evaluating the effectiveness of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-i) on patient centered outcomes such as self-efficacy, pain control and overall quality of life in the young adult chronic pain population. Singh M, Carney C (Co-PI), Co-Investigators: Stinson J, Lailoo C, Mcloone M, Sheffe S, burke-Quesnelle E, Bhatia A, Lim A, Hawa R, Law Y, Bosma R, Direnna T. The Young Adult CBTi (YAC) Study. Women's College Hospital Academic and Medical Services Group (WCHAMSG) Innovation Fund

Rima Styra

Distress in COVID, delirium in cardiac patients, COVID study

Susan Abbey

Transplant, COVID

Donna Stewart

Stressors and Protective Factors in Assessors and Providers of Medical Assistance in Dying

Our multidisciplinary psychosocial oncology research program focuses on understanding cancer-related needs and developing mental health interventions for cancer patients and their families. Research projects extend across all phases from active cancer treatment to palliative care and survivorship, with research approaches including mixed methods qualitative and quantitative studies, biomarker development, digital technologies, and clinical trials.

Researchers

Psychiatry

Mary Elliott, Sarah Hales, Chana Korenblum, Madeline Li , Kim Miller, Jody Morita, Pamela Mosher, Gary Rodin, Christian Schulz-Quach

Psychology

Lori Bernstein, Norma D'Agostino, Kim Edelstein, Jennifer Jones, Andrew Matthew, Rinat Nissim

Research Topics

Cancer and the Brain

  • Cognition and cancer
  • Psychoneuroimmunology and cancer-related symptoms
  • Circadian rhythms and cancer

Quality of Life and Survivorship

  • Health services research<
    • Distress Assessment and Response Tool (DART) patient reported outcomes
    • Quality of Life and Comprehensive Cancer Care PROs
    • Psychometric scale development
    • Adolescent and young adult cancer needs
  • Management of physical and psychological cancer-related symptoms
    • Pharmacological and psychological clinical trials
    • Creative arts therapies
  • Self-management research
    • Diet and exercise interventions
    • Sexual health
    • Mindfulness based cognitive therapy (MBCT)
    • Digital health interventions

Advanced and Terminal Disease

  • Managing Cancer and Living Meaningfully (CALM) psychotherapy
  • Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD)
  • Quality of death and dying and bereavement morbidity
  • Early palliative care intervention

Projects

Note: Several projects are collaborations between staff, indicated with initials and * if PI

  1. The prevalence, persistence and experience of traumatic stress symptoms and other psychological distress in family caregivers caring for adult and pediatric patients with acute leukemia. *GR, SH, RN
  2. Emotion And Symptom-focused Engagement (EASE): A multi-site randomized controlled trial for individuals with acute leukemia. *GR, RN
  3. Phase II Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT) of an Internet- and Mobile-based intervention for individuals with advanced or metastatic cancer (iCALM). *GR, SH
  4. The Longitudinal Study of Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) in Patients with Advanced Cancer. *GR, *ML, SH, RN
  5. Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) in the cancer context: A mixed methods study of patient and caregiver experience, quality of death, and bereavement morbidity. *SH, *RN, GR, ML
  6. Symptom screening and early palliative care in patients with advanced cancer: A randomized trial. GR, ML
  7. The DEPRESIC Study: Do Early Life Experiences Prime REsilience to Stress In Cancer? *ML, GR
  8. Biomarkers of insomnia in high risk breast cancer: Impacts on cancer recurrence. *ML, JJ
  9. Patient reported outcome tools for better assessment and patient centered kidney care. ML
  10. Electronic Patient Reported Outcome Measures to Improve Patient Centered Solid Organ Transplant Care. ML, RN
  11. The integration of MAiD in Canadian palliative care services: Leveraging Canadian expertise to inform policy development. ML, GR, RN
  12. Intranasal ketamine for depression in patients with cancer receiving palliative care: a phase II, open-label clinical trial. *ML, GR
  13. Implementation of Distress Assessment and Response Tool (DART) screening program in Kuwait Cancer Control Center (KCCC). ML, GR.
  14. Effectiveness of a telephone-supported depression self-care intervention for cancer survivors. ML, JJ.
  15. Cytokines and Symptom Clusters: A Machine Learning Approach to Identifying Intervention Targets. *ML, GR
  16. Suicide Risk Screening and Suicide Prevention in Patients with Cancer. *ML, GR
  17. Cancer-Related Survival Impact of the Distress Assessment and Response Tool (DART) Program. *ML, GR
  18. “Underneath the skin we are all the same”: Prevalence and predictors of DART distress in cancer centres in the East, Middle East and West. *ML
  19. Longitudinal Trends in Screening for Distress scores: Predictors of Persistence. *ML
  20. Impact of Screening for Distress on Psychosocial Service Use. *ML
  21. An Examination of Predictors of Distress and Well Being Among Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Patients in a Large Canadian Comprehensive Cancer Center. ML, ND'A.
  22. Does attachment style impact cancer outcomes in adults with sarcoma? ML.
  23. Pause4Providers: Meditation to Improve Resilience for Pandemic Medical Workers. ME.
  24. CREATE: Compassion, Resilience And Team-building to support team well-being @ PM. *ME, SH, CK, ML, KM, JM, PM, GR, CSQ, AM
  25. Remote delivery of a mindfulness-based intervention to decrease anxiety levels and burnout among health-care professionals during the Covid-19 pandemic.*ME
  26. A Phase II Pilot Trial to Evaluate the Effectiveness of a Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy Group Intervention for Individuals with a Cancer Diagnosis (MBCT-Ca).*ME, RN
  27. Fear of Cancer Recurrence in the Family Caregiver: A Focus Group Study. RN
  28. Music Meet Up: A novel music therapy group intervention for adolescents and young adults with cancer. *CK.
  29. he needs and experiences of post-treatment adolescent and young adult cancer survivors. *CK, PM.
  30. The Young Adult Experience in an Outpatient Interdisciplinary Palliative Care Clinic. PM, ND'A.
  31. Cancer-related cognitive dysfunction: prevalence, correlates, and self-management in breast and head and neck cancer survivors. *LB, KE, JJ.
  32. Prevalence of perceived cognitive difficulty across cancer type. *LB, KE.
  33. Cognitive function before and after treatment for head and neck cancer. *LB
  34. Development and evaluation of a website to assist cancer patients with returning to work. LB.
  35. Does exercise improve progression free survival in glioblastoma? A prospective single-arm intervention trial. *KE, LB
  36. Cancer-related cognitive dysfunction in young adults: A prospective, longitudinal study. *KE, LB, ND'A
  37. Factors associated with perceived and objective measures of cognitive impairment in patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer. *KE
  38. Intervention to reduce the fear of cancer recurrence in breast cancer survivors. LB.
  39. Cancer Rehab and Survivorship: A prospective longitudinal evaluation of patients participating in the CaRE Program. JJ*, LB
  40. Analysis of DART data to understand the trajectory of cancer related side effects and physical function. JJ*, ML
  41. Associations Between Cardiorespiratory Fitness, Physical Activity and Cognitive Function in Patients with Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma: A Prospective, Pilot Cohort Study. JJ, LB, KE
  42. TruNTH Global registry, Prostate Cancer Outcomes. JJ, AM*
  43. Prostate Cancer 360. JJ*, AM*
  44. Cooking for Vitality-Nutrition and Culinary Education for Managing Care-Related Fatigue. JJ*
  45. Eliminating Digestive Irregularities caused By Late Effects of abdominopelvic radiation (EDIBLE): A pilot study of a nutrition and culinary intervention. JJ*
  46. The MATCH Study: Preference-Based Multi-Site Randomized Comparative Effectiveness Trial (CET) of Mindfulness-Based Cancer Recovery (MBCR) vs. Tai Chi/Qigong (TCQ) in Cancer Survivors. *JJ (site PI)
  47. Canadian Cancer Rehabilitation (CanRehab) Team: Improving the systematic identification, management, and treatment of the adverse effects of cancer. *JJ, LB, ML
  48. Connecting breast cancer survivors for exercise: Extending the impact of ActiveMatch. JJ
  49. Active surveillance of low risk papillary thyroid cancer: program expansion in Quebec. JJ
  50. Active surveillance or surgery for primary management of very low risk papillary thyroid cancer: How often are the long-term disease management goals achieved? JJ
  51. Efficacy of the Rehabilitation Planning Consult for Survivors of Head and Neck Cancer: A Phase II Randomized Controlled Trial. JJ
  52. CaRE@Home: Development and initial testing of an innovative on-line structured multidimensional cancer rehabilitation program. *JJ, LB
  53. Development of a National Quality Improvement Program in Postmastectomy Breast Reconstruction to Optimize Patient-Centred Experience. JJ
  54. A Pilot Study to Evaluate an Innovative Multi-Component, Structured, Rehabilitation Intervention for patients with Advanced Cancer: The Cancer Rehabilitation and Exercise Program. *JJ
  55. A Web-Based Peer Navigation Program for Men with Prostate Cancer: A Hybrid Effectiveness-Implementation Trial. JJ, AM
  56. Effectiveness and Feasibility of Telehealth-based Cancer Rehabilitation Interventions: A systematic review. JJ
  57. An Impact Assessment of a Culturally Tailored Online Psychosocial Self-Help Program for Chinese Immigrant Women with Breast Cancer. JJ
  58. A prospective study of the impact of lymphatic venous anastomosis (LVA) for treatment of secondary upper and lower limb lymphedema related to cancer and its treatments. JJ
  59. Virtualizing survivorship: implementing a more timely and comprehensive model of follow-up care. AM
  60. Toward a Comprehensive Supportive Care Intervention for Older or Frail men with mCRPC (TOPCOP2). AM
  61. Reducing anxiety and enhancing quality of life among caregivers of prostate cancer survivors: Development and evaluation of a dyadic, tailored, web- based, psychosocial and physical self-management programme. AM
  62. The TrueNTH Sexual Health and Rehabilitation Solution: The Prostate Cancer Canada Sexual Health and Rehabilitation eTraining (TrueNTH-SHAReTraining). AM*
  63. The TrueNTH Sexual Health and Rehabilitation Solution: The Prostate Cancer Canada Sexual Health and Rehabilitation eCLINIC (TrueNTH-SHAReCLINIC). AM*
  64. IRONMAN- An International Registry for Men with Advanced Prostate Cancer. AM*
  65. IRONMAN-IMPACT – Patient Reported Outcomes and Response. AM*
  66. The WATChmAN project: Web virtuAl Testicular CANcer clinic Official Title: Assessment of the WATChmAN (Web virtuAl Testicular CANcer Clinic): A Randomized Controlled Study to Estimate the Efficacy of an Electronic Surveillance Tool for Stage I Testicular Cancer. AM

Our program is interested in novel disease modifying treatments for mood disorders and the implementation of evidence-based medicine in mood disorders. There is also an active clinical and research program in neurostimulation (rTMS) and deep brain stimulation for mood disorders.

Researchers

Roger McIntyre, Rodrigo Mansur, Joshua Rosenblat, Jonathan Downar, Sid Kennedy

UHN's research in neuropsychiatry focuses on functional neurological and neurodevelopmental disorders. Current research projects include assessment of a novel collaborative care model for individuals with functional movement disorders and a randomized, placebo-controlled trial of cannabis for individuals with Tourette's syndrome.

Researchers

Paul Sandor, Lindsey MacGillivray

Projects

Paul Sandor

Neurodevelopmental disorders, psychopharmacology, imaging, genetics
Randomized, placebo controlled trial of cannabis in Tourette syndrome patients. Tourette Association America

Lindsey MacGillivray

Functional movement disorders
Evaluating new FMD clinic

Research in the eating disorders program is focused on evaluating outcomes of treatments and development and evaluation of concurrent treatment for eating disorders and posttraumatic stress disorder. Current studies include program evaluation of the Eating Disorders Program, evaluation of the effectiveness of a concurrent treatment for eating disorders and PTSD.

Researchers

Kathryn Trottier, Danielle MacDonald

Seniors Mental Health Research includes basic research about brain structure, biomarkers and treatments for psychotic depression in the elderly and innovative treatments for dementia.

Researchers

Alastair Flint, Kathleen Bingham, Andrea Iaboni, Ron Keren

Projects

Alastair Flint

  • COVID-19:Risks to Mental Health in Seniors
  • Neurocognitive and neuroimaging biomarkers: predicting progression towards dementia in patients with treatment-resistant late-life depression
  • OPTIMUM: Optimizing Outcomes of Treatment-Resistant Depression in Older Adults
  • Prevention of Alzheimer's Dementia with Cognitive Remediation plus Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation in Mild Cognitive Impairment and Depression (PACt-MD)
  • Sustaining Remission of Severe Depression

Kathleen Bingham

  • Relationship between white matter microstructure and outcome in psychotic depression (Excellence Fund)- analysis of STOP-PD dataset
  • Relationship between myelin content and neuropsychological performance in remitted major depression across the lifespan (Catalyst-PI)-not yet recruiting

Andrea Iaboni

  • Location-based health status indices and their integration into clinical care
  • Computer vision for monitoring gait changes over time in older adults
  • Dementia Isolation Toolkit to support the compassionate, safe and effective isolation of people with dementia
  • Soundscape for dementia: a pilot RCT
  • Agitation detection in dementia using multimodal sensors

This research program involves the multi-system genetic disorder, 22q11.2 deletion syndrome (22q11.2DS), that serves as a human model for its major associated conditions that are prevalent in the general population but particularly enriched in 22q11.2DS: schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, Parkinson disease, congenital cardiac disease, type 2 diabetes, and others.

Researchers

Anne Bassett

Projects

Research topics, in addition to 22q11.2DS, include the genetics of schizophrenia and of congenital cardiac disease, and how rare molecular subtypes can inform precision medicine for complex diseases.

Research focus: identify social determinants of health that affect mental health and mental illness of diverse communities and develop effective individual and community psychological and social policy and interventions to decrease stigma, family violence, increase resilience, enhance wellbeing, and promote valued-living, guided by principles of equity, social justice, and empowerment.

Researchers

Kenneth Fung, Keith Wong, Jenny Liu, Donna Stewart

Projects

Kenneth Fung

Linking Hearts
Description: An implementation science project with 1 mental health centre and 6 universities in Jinan, Shandong Province, China. The project seeks to promote wellbeing, build capacity, and reduce mental illness stigma amongst interdisciplinary health professionals and students using Acceptance Commitment Therapy, psychoeducation, and group empowerment approaches.
Recruitment: none at UHN; university faculty, healthcare professionals, counsellors, and students in Jinan China

Pandemic Rapid-response Optimization To Enhance Community-Resilience and Health (PROTECH)
Description: A community-based action research project seeking to reduce the negative psychosocial impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Chinese-Canadians.
Recruitment: none at UHN; Chinese community volunteers to engage in different aspects of the project (information curation, multi-media engagement, event organization, community outreach, live-chat support), as well as healthcare providers and/or Chinese community members highly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to engage in a resilience-promotion intervention.

Pandemic Acceptance and Commitment to Empowerment Response – HealthCare Professionals (PACER-HCP)
Description: An online psychosocial intervention program to promote resilience, lower distress, and build capacity in healthcare providers in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic; integrates Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
Recruitment at UHN: healthcare staff/providers at UHN and other healthcare settings to engage in a resilience-promotion intervention.

ACT-GROWTH
Description: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy time limited group to help women who have experienced trauma
Recruitment: suspended due to pandemic

Autism Mental Health Promotion Project
Description: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) groups to train clinicians and parents with children/adult children with Autism Spectrum Disorder to cope with stress
Recruitment: on-going; groups is now online and virtual

Donna Stewart

Family Violence
Research on prevention and education on family violence/intimate partner violence and child maltreatment as factors which contribute to mental disorders. This work is funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada and the research informs national health and wellbeing policy.

Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC). Preparing Providers to Recognize and Respond to Family Violence. Kimber M, Stewart DE, Vanstone M (coLeads). 2019/11 - 2023/2
PHAC#1920-HQ-00008