Year Two Funded Projects

Small Scale $15,000 Award Recipients

Positive body image is of central importance to healthy psychological development of youth. Studies have shown that negative body image and body dissatisfaction are associated with feelings of depression, low self-esteem, and dieting behaviours. Pregnancy is associated with changes in body shape that influence body image satisfaction. This is of particular concern for pregnant youth, as they are already at increased risk for medical complications. Dissatisfaction with body image during pregnancy is a determinant of depressive symptoms in pregnancy and postpartum, which can ultimately be detrimental for mother and child.

This research team plans to understand the needs of pregnant and parenting youth with regard to body image. They will strive to understand the needs of community organizations that specialize in services for the pregnant and parenting youth to be able to support them with body image issues. They will also learn how health care providers and policy makers can better address the needs of the pregnant and parenting youth.

Principal Investigator

Megan Harrison (Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario)

Collaborators

Chantalle Clarkin and Kristina Rohde (Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario), Cathryn Fortier (Mary’s Home), Cindy Simpson (Youville Centre), Nancy MacNider (St. Mary’s Home), Paul Welsh, Kerry Moloney, Nadine McLean, Ben Bridgstock (Rideauwood Addiction and Family Services)

Violence against women is a global health concern which can take on many different forms. One of the most commonly examined types is IPV: a pattern of physical, sexual, and/or emotional violence by an intimate partner within the context of coercive control. Studies have shown that abuse usually occurs in combination with other types and it has become essential to understand the damaging impacts of abuse on women’s health. This further identifies the need for trauma informed primary health care for women who have experienced intimate partner violence (IPV) and other forms of violence and trauma.

A number of agencies in Middlesex County offer unique solutions to women in needs of trauma informed health and social services. The Health Zone Nurse Practitioner Led Clinic (NPLC), together with the University of Toronto, the Women’s Rural Resource Centre (WRRC), Women’s Community House (WCH) and My Sisters’ Place (MSP), will conduct a multiple case study analysis to evaluate three “models” of trauma informed services in Middlesex County. Their goals are to examine the feasibility, acceptability and perceived impacts of the three current models of trauma informed social and primary care services (i.e. shelter-integrated, day programs-integrated, and shelter-referral, respectively). They will also identify gaps and recommendations for improving the quality of services offered to marginalized women in Middlesex (and beyond).

Principal Investigator

Myrna Fisk (Health Zone Nurse Practitioner Led Clinic)

Collaborators

Wolfe Barat and Tara Mantler (University of Western Ontario), Corey Allison (Women’s Rural Resource Centre), Kate Wiggins (Women’s Community House) Susan Macphail (My Sisters’ Place)

Toronto neighbourhoods are devastated by loss of young men to gun violence, leaving the mothers of these victims to suffer grief-related trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder, which in turn makes it difficult to care for themselves and their families. The effect of gun-violent loss compounded with existing precarious situations for women in marginalized communities creates complex traumatic needs extending across mental health care, rehabilitation and support services.

Peer support has been identified as an effective low-cost therapeutic strategy for gun-violence survivors, by promoting individual well-being, resource access and wider community healing. This research team plans to develop and implement a community-based peer mutual support group for grieving mothers by 1. engaging grieving mothers in critical dialogue about the development, structure and process of a peer mutual support group designed to meet with grief and trauma needs, and 2. establishing a peer mutual support group for grieving mothers that provides coping strategies and peer support to meet their grief and trauma needs.

Principal Investigator

Rev. Sky Staff (Out of Bounds)

Collaborators

Dr. Annette Bailey (Ryerson University)

How youth use technology to access sexual health information and how that technology impacts the youths’ sexual health has yet to be extensively researched. Sexual orientation is a key factor in the extent to which youth seek sexual health information on-line. Young queer women have distinct sexual health needs and they may not have reliable access to sexual health information through various channels, including the internet.

This research team from Planned Parenthood Toronto (PPT), York University the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health plans to determine why, how and how well young queer women are using the internet, mobile and other digital technologies to access sexual health information. The data collected will increase the understanding of gaps in sexual health information for young queer women that is available on line and through mobile and other digital means. This will make it possible to develop recommendations for resources and interventions to support young queer women’s sexual health information needs through these means.

Principal Investigator

Cheryl Dobinson (Planned Parenthood Toronto)

Collaborators

Carmen Logie (York University), Corey Flanders (Centre for Addition and Mental Health)

Research has suggested that women with psychiatric disabilities may experience specific sexual health vulnerabilities, including an increased risk of sexually transmitted infections, unplanned and unwanted pregnancies related to lower rates of contraceptive-use, and higher rates of gender-based violence (i.e. sexual abuse, sexual assault and rape in adulthood, and intimate partner violence). Studies within this population are largely based on the experiences, opinions and insights of the mental health service providers (MHSPs) rather than the women with psychiatric disabilities.

The Empowerment Council will work with York University and the Centre for Mental Health and Addiction to understand sexual health services access for women with psychiatric disabilities, and develop evidence-based recommendations for enhancing access to equitable, quality sexual health services for this population of women.

Principal Investigator

Lucy Costa (The Empowerment Council)

Collaborators

Andrea Daley (York University), Lori Ross (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health)

There are higher rates of diabetes, respiratory and circulatory problems, hypertension, cancer, HIV/AIDS, mortality due to violence, and suicide among aboriginal women compared to non-Aboriginal women. It is believed that traditional, social, cultural changes are leading to the deterioration of health conditions for aboriginal women in their communities.

This research team would like to find out if women and girls from aboriginal communities will benefit from the 13 Moon Model Journey. This model uses indigenous view, philosophy, practice, learning methods and pedagogy to assist women in learning, healing, coping and moving toward a balanced state of health, well-being and empowerment. This project will also improve understanding of elements that influence Aboriginal female health, and knowledge will translate to manuals, curricula and pamphlets for organizations and groups that provide women’s health services.

Principal Investigator

Constance McKnight (De dwa da dehs nye>s Aboriginal Health Centre)

Collaborators

Nancy Rowe-Henry, Dan McCarthy (University of Waterloo), Janet Hill and Dick Passmore (De dwa da dehs nye>s Aboriginal Health Centre)

Patient care is increasingly moving from hospital to home, as most people prefer to receive care at home. While the healthcare system is benefitting from shorter hospital stays and long term care admissions, home care demands intensify on family caregivers and personal support workers. In Canada 54-77% of family caregivers and 92% of personal support workers are female, and are at high risk of negative health consequences due to the challenges associated with providing home care.

This research team plans to understand the physical and emotional challenges female caregivers experience while providing home care, identify facilitators and barriers to implementing new solutions for home care giving that would decrease the risk of physical injuries to women providing care in the community and raise awareness of female caregiver challenges.

Principal Investigator

Tilak Dutta (Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, University Health Network)

Collaborators

Emily King (University of Toronto), Karen Ray (Saint Elizabeth), Tara Kajaks (Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, University Health Network), Dorcas Beaton (Institute for Work and Health), Jill Cameron (University of Toronto)

Mothers are often assuming the primary care giving role for children with disabilities. Additionally, there are unique stressors that mothers encounter when caring for children with disabilities. Common health promotion messages such as “exercise regularly” and “take time for yourself” may not always be feasible these mothers, and even less so for immigrant mothers of children with disabilities.

This research team will work to identify what immigrant mother of children with developmental disabilities (DDs) consider relevant health promotion practices by determining what types of health promotion strategies immigrant mothers of children with DDs will participate in, and identifying the types of unmet health promotion needs. They will also uncover the perceptions of helpfulness of available health promotion supports and the challenges and enabling factors mothers experience in accessing health promotion supports and services. The study’s findings will be used to influence policies and programs that are culturally sensitive and gender specific in providing health promotion support for immigrant mothers of children with DDs.

Principal Investigator

Nazilla Khanlou, (York University)

Collaborators

Gail Jones (Kerry’s Place Autism Services in Central West Region of Ontario), Louise Kinross (Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital), Karen Yoshida (University of Toronto)

Statistics Canada data indicate that nearly half of the GTA’s population is born abroad. Immigrants face cultural differences and language barriers. This can be a contributing factor to slow societal integration and minimal knowledge of Canadian standards, in particular Canada’s guidelines for healthy eating. Colorectal cancer has been identified by the Canadian Cancer Society as the 3rd most commonly diagnosed cancer in Canada and the 3rd leading cause of death from cancer in women in Canada. A need has been identified to overcome barriers that would prevent lack of prevention strategies and food literacy and physical activity.

This research team plans to develop a culturally appropriate educational program around risk prevention for Chinese immigrant women. The goals will be to educate new immigrant women about screening services and prevention strategies, and in turn understand the health service concerns and prevention needs of the new immigrant women, so the women and their families can live a healthy lifestyle.

Principal Investigator

Tsorng-Yeh Lee (York University)

Collaborators

Grace Ho (South Riverdale Community Health Centre), Beryl Pilkington (York University)

The YWCA and the North Hamilton Health Centre have identified the need for better coordination of health services information and access to that information for women in Hamilton. The YWCA has provided various health promotion services to targeted groups in the city, including seniors living in social housing, South Asian women living in at-risk neighbourhoods, Mandarin-speaking Chinese women and Arabic-speaking Muslim women. The North Hamilton Community Health Centre has also served an ethnically diverse population including high numbers of single-parent families and individuals with lower median income than the overall city. From these experiences, the YWCA and the North Hamilton Health Centre propose a city-wide initiative to bring together groups that are already working on women’s health issues in the community and to expand capacity to other areas in need.

This research team will explore the feasibility of a community-driven Women’s Health Network in Hamilton; a network which will coordinate existing information about available health services in the city and foster partnerships among health service providers, community and social services and academic researchers in women’s health. This collaboration will identify any further gaps in women’s health services in the city of Hamilton and will help design an innovative model for a community-driven Women’s Health Network which would effectively and efficiently improve access to much needed health services in Hamilton.

Principal Investigator

Medora Uppal (YWCA of Hamilton)

Collaborators

Sonja Macdonald (Centre for Community Study Inc.), Elizabeth Beader (North Hamilton Community Health Centre)

The Canadian Cancer Society estimates that in 2014, 93,600 Canadian women will be diagnosed with cancer and 36,000 women will die from the disease. International research is showing that certain races and ethnicities are disproportionately affected, with specific reports of breast and cervical cancer mortality in black women.

This research team plans to conduct a pilot peer-education program on cervical and breast cancer screening for black Canadians in the Malvern community within the GTA. The project will consist of a peer education program using an “Afrocentric lens” in collaboration with community and academic partners, with educational sessions made available to the community, including assistance in navigating the healthcare system and accessing services.

Principal Investigator

Onyenyechukwu Nnorom (TAIBU Community Health Centre)

Collaborators

Nakia Lee-Foon and Aisha Lofters (St. Michael’s Hospital), Liben Gebremikael (TAIBU Community Health Centre), Fran Scott (McMaster University), Leila Springer (The Olive Branch of Hope)

Social and cultural research indicate that African, Caribbean and Black (ACB) women are among the most socially, economically and politically marginalized groups in Canada. This has a direct impact on employment prospects, social mobility, lived experiences, and the overall health and wellbeing of these women.

Traditionally, communal spaces have been utilized for spiritual healing in response to the sense of isolation. Within the past year, the team from York University, BrAIDS for Aids, St. Michael’s Hospital, McGill University, and Women’s Health in Women’s Hands organized an informal support group as an opportunity for ACB women to share experiences and provide support to one another. This team plans to continue this forum and develop it further with regular bi-weekly meetings and documenting the lived experiences and coping strategies. Artistic mediums, such as digital stories and manuals will be created for raising awareness about these issues to a broader audience, engaging communities and relevant stakeholders about the work and health of women of colour.

Principal Investigator

Ciann Wilson (York University)

Collaborators

Strachen Frederick (BrAIDS for AIDS), Nakia Lee-Foon (St. Michael’s Hospital), Melissa A. Cobbler (McGill University), Marvelous Munchenje (Women’s Health in Women’s Hands)

Evidence demonstrates that preventative cancer care is a priority healthcare concern for newcomer and immigrant women in Toronto (Global City, 2011; Krzyzanowska, M.K., et al, 2009). The Somali population is a target community for Rexdale CHC. Data at Access Alliance shows that Somali-speaking female clients remain under-screened for cervical cancer. Research has demonstrated that compared to other immigrant women, Somali women remain particularly vulnerable and under screened due to a number of complex factors, from language barriers, re-settlement challenges, to fear and stigma associated with illness and reproductive health, the complications of “female circumcision,” and lack of access to female healthcare providers (Abdullahi et. Al, 2009; Carrol et al, 2007; Paisley et al, 2002; Samuel et al, 2009; Raymond et al, 2014).

Through a series of research activities, this project will generate evidence to understand cancer screening barriers experienced by Somali immigrant and newcomer women. Synthesizing this knowledge, the research team will pilot a series of evidence-driven, peer-driven and group health promotion activities that will seek to reduce barriers to cancer screening uptake amongst Somali female clients at Access Alliance and Rexdale CHC. In addition, they will assess the extent to which the elements of these activities (peer outreach, language-specific, group education & group pap) are effective in reducing barriers to cervical cancer screening in Somali immigrant women over 21 years old and under 65 years old, while using a community-based approach and capacity building techniques.

Principal Investigator:

Sehr Athar (Access Alliance Multicultural Health and Community Services)

Collaborators:

Danielle Kenyon and Akm Alamgir (Access Alliance Multicultural Health and Community Services), Aisha Lofters (St. Michael’s Hospital) and Maryan Barre (Rexdale Community Health Centre)

Dementia is a condition that disproportionately affects women. It is estimated 72% of Canadians living with Alzheimer’s disease are women. Women with dementia who live alone in the community face extraordinary challenges to their health, safety and well-being, including an increased risk for falls, depression and living at low income. It is critical to increase the understanding of the experiences and unique psychosocial challenges faced by women with dementia living alone to inform the development of updated and more inclusive resources. The Alzheimer Society of Ontario together with the Centre for Education on Research & Aging at Lakehead University are partnering on this project to (1) enhance understanding of the experiences and needs of women with dementia who live alone in the community and (2) to promote further research targeting this population. Semi-structured interviews will be conducted with women living in different regions of Ontario. The knowledge acquired through this study can be readily infused into the work of the partner organizations to make their educational resources and services more inclusive and sensitive to the particular needs of women with dementia, in addition to promoting awareness.

Principal Investigator:

David Harvey (Alzheimer Society of Ontario)

Collaborators:

Elaine Wiersma (Lakehead University)

The Women’s Mental Health and Addiction Network (WMHAN) collaborated with Women’s College Hospital to gather preliminary evidence regarding the feasibility and effectiveness of the “Trauma One Group Intervention”. To address the lack of trauma-informed group programming available to, and appropriate for, homeless/precariously housed women in Toronto. The WMHAN designed a 10-week-trauma-informed, women centered and community based group intervention for homeless/precariously housed women. The objectives of the group include increasing awareness of the effects of trauma, including histories of mental health and substance use; teaching healing skills, including self-care; increasing positive beliefs such as self-acceptance, hope, personal power and compassion; and decreasing shame and isolation.

The study objectives include:

  1. Demonstrate the feasibility of recruiting and retaining homeless/precariously housed women for the “Trauma One Group Intervention”
  2. Gather preliminary evidence of the effectiveness or benefit of the intervention for homeless/precariously housed women with experience of trauma, and,
  3. Determine the acceptability of the intervention and whether and how it should be modified to better meet homeless/precariously housed women.

Research on the effectiveness of trauma-informed programs for homeless/precariously housed women with trauma histories, substance use and/or mental health problems is nascent. This research team will use an integrated knowledge translation methodology. Research experts, practitioners, decision-makers and end-users are working collaboratively to ensure the study findings have a pathway for integration into policy and practice. They will engage women with lived experience in all phases of the research study to ensure the process and findings are relevant to homeless/precariously housed women.

Principal Investigator:

Amanda Dale (Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic & WMHAN)

Collaborators:

Sheryl Lindsay (Sistering and WMHAN), Dr. Catherine Classen and Anne Fourt (Women’s College Hospital and the University of Toronto) and Dr. Peter Voore (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and WMHAN)

In addition to coping with symptoms, postpartum mood disorders (PPMD) have a significant impact on women such as increasing loneliness and isolation, lowering self-esteem and affecting overall quality of life. Access to timely and effective services is important to improve women’s mental health; however, difficulties with transportation, childcare and self-stigma are barriers to receiving services. The goal of this project is to pilot a group treatment for women experiencing PPMD, a service that is currently lacking in this community. The research team seeks to determine if group treatment can improve mental health functioning, quality of life and reduce stigma. This project will also determine whether reductions in self-stigma can explain some of the positive outcomes associated with group treatment. Group participants will complete measures of mental health symptoms, quality of life, and self-stigma at the beginning of treatment, and monthly thereafter. The findings of this project will be of benefit to mental health organizations, care providers, and persons with lived experience, and can be used to enhance postpartum services for women.

Principal Investigator:

Amanda Maranzan (Lakehead University)

Collaborators:

Rosemary Scofich (Thunder Bay District Health Unit) and Heather Boynton (St. Joseph’s Care Group)

Mental health disorders affect as many as 1 in 5 women during pregnancy and the first year postpartum. The Ottawa Birth and Wellness Center (OBWC) is seeking to expand programming to address gaps in perinatal mental health services in Ottawa and ensure that any such programming compliments existing services. The goals of this project are to identify the unmet needs of women with perinatal mental health concerns who live in Ottawa, and to identify what programming could be offered at the OBWC to address these needs. The project involves conducting focus groups and interviews with women and care providers to identify perceived service needs, conducting an environmental scan of existing perinatal mental health services in Ottawa, conducting a literature scan on interventions and service delivery models for perinatal mental health services, and engaging stakeholders in a participatory process to collaboratively develop a proposal to address identified gaps in service. The research team will use an integrated approach to knowledge translation. The results of the environmental scan will be made publicly available to women and care providers in the form of an electronic resource. The final findings will be summarized in a document that describes potential programs or services that could be offered through the OBWC to address gaps in perinatal mental health services, and presented in interactive meetings with the OBWC board of directors and the Champlain Maternal Newborn Regional Program Network. The results will seek to inform future health care service delivery to women with perinatal mental health concerns.

Principal Investigator:

Elizabeth Darling (Midwifery Group of Ottawa)

Collaborators:

Diane Parkin, Elizabeth Fraser & Jasmine Chatelain (Midwifery Group of Ottawa), Teresa Bandrowska (Ottawa Birth and Wellness Centre)

Recent research shows that the rate of past-year cannabis use for bisexual women in Ontario (33.6%) is over four times the provincial average. While U.S. and Australian Studies have also noticed spiking rates of cannabis use by bisexual women, no print or media campaigns have addressed this issue yet. The Re:searching for LGBTQ Health team proposes to create such a campaign, rooted in the lived experience of bisexual women. This is in line with the mandate to understand how lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer (LGBTQ) people experience physical and mental health, and access health services.

Why are a third of bisexual women using cannabis? The team’s research suggests that the answer lies in a lack of community support. Bisexual women report using cannabis to deal with anxiety, and they connect this anxiety with a lack of bisexual community, a lack of identity support, and with biphobia in their LGBTQ communities. Women also report that their LGBTQ peers treat cannabis use as a joke and that their attempts to reduce their use or to access treatment were met with ridicule. The goal for this community based awareness campaign is to increase the peer support available to bisexual women who use cannabis. The team believes that additional peer support can 1) reduce the anxiety promoting cannabis use; and 2) assist bisexual women who wish to change or reduce their use of cannabis. This campaign will also strive to increase bisexual visibility, and improve LGBTQ community awareness of cannabis use among bisexual women.

Principal Investigator:

Margaret Robinson (Ontario HIV Treatment Network)

Collaborators:

Dana Shaw (Toronto Bisexuality Education Program)

Research indicates that bisexual women, on average, report poorer mental health in comparison to heterosexual and lesbian women. While a body of literature has established this health disparity, little work has been done to understand the causal factors driving it. One causal factor may be microaggressions (everyday experiences of prejudice faced by members of marginalized groups), which exploratory research has associated with an increase in stress and anxiety. Also important are microaffirmations (everyday experiences of support and encouragement), which are associated with a decrease in stress and anxiety. However, a reliable measure of these factors has not yet been developed for use with bisexual women. The Re:searching for LGBTQ Health team proposes to develop and validate such measures. This is in line with their mandate to understand how lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer (LGBTQ) people experience physical and mental health, and access health services. The community based mixed methods study will conduct focus groups with bisexual women to identify frequent experiences of microaggressions and microaffirmations, and will validate the measure statistically. Finally, the research team plan to test the relationship between microaggression, microaffirmation, and mental health for bisexual women, using a daily diary study.

Principal Investigator:

Margaret Robinson (Ontario HIV Treatment Network)

Collaborators:

Corey Flanders (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health)

Women with epilepsy (WWE) face many gender-specific challenges with both epilepsy and the antiepileptic drugs used to treat seizures. However, multiple studies indicate a lack of knowledge and a desire for more information about epilepsy and antiepileptic drugs among WWE. Community pharmacists are easily accessible sources of information and are capable of filling the gap demonstrated among WWE. However, there is no published research that investigates the information needs that WWE have of their community pharmacist with regards to epilepsy and antiepileptic drugs. Therefore, this study will use a qualitative focus group methodology to understand the expectations and needs that WWE have of their community pharmacist with regard to the safety and effective use of antiepileptic drugs for the treatment of epilepsy. A qualitative focus group methodology will encourage a range of responses to the research questions to gain a better understanding of expectations, needs and experiences of WWE. The research team uses constant comparison analysis to analyze the transcribed notes of the audio-recorded focus group sessions. The results of the study will be provided to WWE through Epilepsy Waterloo Wellington; additionally, regional community pharmacists will be engaged at several regional meetings to review and discuss the findings. The results of the study will also be presented nationally at the annual Canadian Pharmacists Association in May 2016. Finally, findings from the study will be used to inform the development of patient information and engagement tools that could be utilized by community pharmacists to inform WWE in a future research project.

Principal Investigator:

Tejal Patel (University of Waterloo)

Collaborators:

Feng Chang and Heba Tallah Mohammed (University of Waterloo), Jennifer Lyon (Epilepsy Waterloo-Wellington)

Trans youth experience a high level of unmet needs with regard to sexual health, and lack access to appropriate and inclusive sexual health education and services. This team believes that trans youth deserve to be included in the sexual health information, resources and services across the board. This project will involve and benefit trans youth broadly, including trans women, trans men, and people with non-binary gender identities, as these individuals all face exclusion and stressors stemming from gender-based marginalization. The project's goal is to develop solutions to increase the inclusion of trans youth in sexual health education by developing guidelines and language around sexual health that includes all genders and bodies. This will be achieved through interviews with eight service providers and focus groups with 24 trans youth, the results of which will be used to inform the development of recommendations and a guideline manual to support service providers and educators in talking about sexual health and providing services in trans-inclusive ways. The draft manual will be taken to the community for review and validation through a town hall feedback session, a focus group with eight trans youth, and a focus group of service providers. After incorporating the feedback from these activities, the team will publish the manual (in print and online) and promote it widely to service providers and educators in efforts to better inform future practice.

Principal Investigator:

Cheryl Dobinson (Planned Parenthood Toronto)

Collaborators:

Carmin Logie (University of Toronto) and Corey Flanders (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health)

When thinking of barriers to healthcare for women located in rural and remote settings, geographical location seems to be the focus. In reality, this “physical” isolation faced by communities in Northwestern Ontario is just the tip of the iceberg. While geography does limit the physical access to healthcare, communication barriers may be obstructing the simplest forms of necessary contact with healthcare providers. For women who are physically isolated, communication needs to be reviewed as an essential pillar to health and methods of communication need to be valued as lifelines to safety.

This research project seeks to explore communication barriers which are unique to Northwestern Ontario in order to address the health and safety concerns of women affected by sexual assault and/or domestic violence (SA/DV). Through the use of quantitative and qualitative data collection, this research team plans to analyze whether the use of cellphones proves to be an effective method of meeting the diverse needs of the defined population and service area. Specifically, they seek to determine if patients consider cellphones to be an appropriate method of improving communication, access to care and overall health.

The information gained from this project will be disbursed to other health care providers as well as the general public. The knowledge translation activities will aim to contribute to an international action plan to address communication and access to care issues as well as positively impact the health of women.

Principal Investigator:

Amy Chamberlain (Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre)

Collaborators:

Jessica Whately, Glendene Schardt, Annette Schroeter & Colleen Mackillop (Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre), Tana Troniak (First Step Women’s Shelter), Kimberly Murphy (Ontario Native Women’s Association & Sunset Women’s Aboriginal Circle), Dr. Kristen Burnett & Dr. Lori Chambers (Lakehead University)

This research team plans to employ a mixed-methods design to assess the impact of a mother-led Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) group intervention on the health and wellbeing of mothers of children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Specifically they will: 1) compare participating mothers' levels of psychological acceptance, psychological distress, social isolation and perceived health before, after, and 3 months post-workshop; and 2) analyze focus group data to qualitatively study how the group impacted their health and ways to improve future groups. In addition, they will assess the feasibility of mothers as facilitators by interviewing co-facilitators and through feedback obtained from participants on the benefits of mothers as facilitators.

Thirty mothers of children, adolescents, and young adults with ASD living in the GTA enroll in one of two ACT workshops led by two mothers and supported by a psychiatrist trained in the delivery of ACT interventions. Recruitment will occur with the support of 4 community partners. The ACT intervention is spread over 3 sessions: 1 evening followed by a full day, and a second 'refresher' evening 4 weeks later. The results of this study will aim to better inform future interventions for mothers of children with autism spectrum disorder.

Principal Investigator:

Kelly Bryce & Johanna Lake (Surrey Place Centre)

Collaborators:

Yona Lunksy (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health), Kenneth Fung (Toronto Western Hospital) and Lee Steel (Extend-A-Family)

Adolescent mothers are at four times greater risk of developing post-partum depression (PPD) compared to adult mothers. Studies have consistently identified a lack of social support as a major risk factor of PPD among adolescent mothers; however, no interventions exist which specifically aim to increase social support in the postpartum period to prevent the onset of PPD in this population. Pervious research on telephone based peer support among adult mothers demonstrated a 50% reduction in PPD; however, it is not known if this is a feasible or acceptable approach for adolescent mothers. Therefore, researchers at the University of Toronto, in collaboration with their community partner, Young Parents No Fixed Address, aim to evaluate the feasibility and acceptability of an innovative mobile phone based peer to peer support for adolescent mothers with the intention of preventing PPD among this high vulnerable and complex maternal population.

In this study, peer mentors (young mothers between 15-23 years) will be trained to provide support via mobile phone to a new adolescent mother during the last trimester of pregnancy and first 3 months postpartum. Mobile phones are the preferred mode of communication for adolescents and allow for increased accessibility and flexibility in communication. Results from this study will reveal if mobile phone based support for adolescent mothers is feasible and which components of peer support (informational, emotional appraisal support) and which aspects of mobile phone technology (voice-calling, text messaging or a combination of both) are most acceptable for adolescent mothers.

Principal Investigator:

Barbara Chyzzy (University of Toronto)

Collaborators:

Dr. Cindy-Lee Dennis (University of Toronto), Dr. Nelson LaRon (University of Rochester), Dr. Jennifer Stinson (The Hospital for Sick Children), Dr. Simone Vigod (Women’s College Hospital) and Yvette Roberts (Oolagen – Youth Mental Health)

Indigenous women experience substantially higher rates of mortality from disease, intimate partner violence, suicide and homicide, relative to other Canadian women. Many of these harsh realities are linked to racism, sexism, poverty, marginalization and historical trauma- the dark and enduring legacies of colonization and oppressive assimilation policies. As obvious as these inequities are to Indigenous women, many of their health problems are poorly understood by non-Aboriginals, including healthcare providers. As a result, women's health needs are not being met, often times with tragic consequences. At Walpole Island First Nation, a number of conceptual and operational challenges hinder the collection, consolidation, and analysis of health statistics, resulting in knowledge gaps that prevent a clear picture of women’s health. To address this problem, this research project asks the question: “Can a grassroots, community-based model for data collection be developed that can improve the quality of information collected on the health of women residing on First Nations reserves?” This research team will use Body Mapping, in conjunction with other qualitative and quantitative methods to collect baseline health data from a segment of the community’s adult female population. The objectives of this study are threefold: 1) to identify major health risks and health problems affecting the reserve’s female residents; 2) to develop an electronic health database that can serve as a resource for community health workers and researchers; and 3) to use the findings to develop a strategic community health plan and appropriate interventions that will be directed toward improving women’s health.

Principal Investigator:

Christianne Stephens (York University)

Collaborators:

Shelagh Towson (University of Windsor), Rosemary Williams, Meg Connelly, Linda Lou Classens & Denise Aquash (Walpole Island First Nation)

 

Large Scale $75,000 Award Recipients

Population-based studies indicate that an estimated 4-7% of Canadian older adults experience some serious form of elder abuse or maltreatment. Common scenarios of elder abuse are (1) acts of isolation and neglect by an adult child or caregiver, (2) physical or sexual assault by an intimate partner, adult child or caregiver, and (3) financial or material exploitation by a stranger, family member or professional. Abuse or neglect by a partner with advancing dementia, and/or systematic neglect by a long-term health care provider are also forms of elder abuse.

In 2004 in Canada, the rate of family-related elder abuse against older women was 22% higher than the rate for older men, illustrating that elder abuse is a gendered problem. Furthermore, elder abuse has been shown to be associated with increased mortality and morbidity. Thus interventions designed to address this issue must be comprehensive and coordinated.

This research team plans to advance a multi-phase multi-method program of research to develop, implement and evaluate an evidence-informed Nurse Examiner led hospital-based Elder Abuse Intervention. The program will be designed to recognize the needs of older women and other populations disproportionately affected by elder abuse, such as ethnic and racial minorities, and those with cognitive impairment, mental health issues and living in different settings including long-term care. The research team’s objectives will be to determine the importance of the recommendations for responding to elder abuse for implementation, and based on those findings to develop, pilot and evaluate an elder abuse curriculum associated training manual and protocol, i.e. forms and guidelines used in the delivery of clinical care.

Principal Investigator

Janice DuMont (Women’s College Research Institute)

Collaborators

Sheila Macdonald (Ontario Network of Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Treatment Centres), Mark Yaffe (McGill University)

For the last two decades obesity has been on the forefront of national and international public health platforms as a global epidemic with detrimental health effects. This call to attention has increased health research intended to “cure” obesity, with a large focus on variations from “normal eating”. However, scholars have now identified certain populations as “at risk populations” based on the analysis of cultural and social conditions and lesbians are considered to be one such population. Lesbians are assumed to have higher rates of obesity due to poor diet and exercise behaviours, as a result of their perceived opposition to heterosexual feminist and beauty ideals.

This research team will investigate the impact of body standards on queer women and they ways in which they take up and resist those standards. The knowledge obtained will be incorporated into the healthcare provider training programs and products offered by Rainbow Health Ontario. These training materials are intended for project participants, health service providers, academics/professionals, and the public.

Principal Investigator

Jen Rinaldi (University of Ontario Institute of Technology), Loralee Gillis (Rainbow Health Ontario)

Collaborators

Jill Andrew and Elisabeth Harrison (York University), May Friedman (Ryerson University), Karleen Pendleton Jimenez (Trent University), Andrea LaMarre and Carla Rice (University of Guelph), Deborah McPhail (University of Manitoba)

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