Research | Scientific Publications | Scientific and Academic Presentations

Members of our department are involved in a number of research projects, many of which represent joint efforts with other services and professionals both within the hospital and at McGill University.
Research Activities
by members of the Department of Psycholog
y

 

Impact of Education and Social Support in End-Stage Renal Disease

Dr. I. Binik of McGill University, Dr. G. Devins of the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry in Toronto, and nephrologists in Toronto and Montréal, including Dr. P. Barré of the RVH, are carrying out a multi-centre trial investigating the effects of education and social support on the rate of kidney deterioration in end-stage renal disease. This study follows up earlier research which demonstrated that a brief educational program given to pre-dialysis patients decreased the rate of kidney deteterioration by about four months. This project is supported by a granted from Health Canada (NHRDP).

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Understanding and Treating Dyspareunia and Vaginismus

Dr. I. Binik, working with Dr. S. Khalife and Dr. K. Pagidas of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, is investigating the phenomenology, classifcation, and treatment of dyspareunia and vaginismus. One set of studies involves investigating the etiology of coital pain by examining a variety of physical and psychosocial factors. A second set of studies involves attempting to characterize and describe the nature of different types of pain during intercourse, such as vulvar vestibulitis and vaginismus. A third set of studies involves investigating treatments for vulvar vestibulitis syndrome. These studies are supported by grants from health Canada (NHRDP) and Pfizer.

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Follow-Up of Adolescents with Mood Disorders

Dr. L. Colle, along with Drs. LaRoche, Belair, and Roux, has been assessing adolescents hospitalized for mood disorders 2-5 years following their discharge using the methodology adopted from the NIMH Collaborative Study on Depression. She and Dr. C. LaRoche have recently submitted a proposal to evaluate the psychosocial outcome of bipolar adolescents. This proposal is being integrated into a multi-site study which will utilize standardized methodology to facilitate the composition of a databank on bipolar adolescents. Dr. S. Kutcher in Halifax is the coordinator of the multi-site study. Regardless of whether external funding is obtained, adolescents (both unipolar and bipolar) will continue to be followed up.

 

Dr. L. Colle, in cooperation with Dr. A-M. Ghadirian of the Mood Disorders Clinic, is involved in assessing the rates of seasonal affective disorder in both clinical (inpatient) and non-clinical samples of adolescents. Preliminary data on approximately 200 adolescents suggest that adolescents are particularly sensitive to changes in mood and behaviour as a function of the season.

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Dr. F. Azima-Cramer, senior psychologist at the Child and Adolescent Service, is attempting to determine which children and families profit from short-term interventions (one school year) and which others need longer programs. This project will hopefully be helpful in pointing to the optimal composition and placement in treatment programs for different goals, as well as in planning for school reintegration. Dr. Azima-Cramer has recently co-authored a grant application with Dr. C. LaRoche, entitled "Treatment Duration and Outcome in a Multimodal Group Day Program for Children with Disruptive Behaviour Disorders."

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Depression in Medical Inpatients, Violence in Psychiatric Patients, and Hormonal and Renal Responses to Lithium

Dr. F. Engelsmann, although retired, continues to extend valuable methodological assistance to his colleagues in Psychology and Psychiatry. His current research focuses on depression in older medical inpatients (with Dr. F. Fenton), and on violence in psychiatric patients (with Drs. E. Tam and R. Fugere). Together with Dr. M. Kusalik, he has published papers on the effects of lithium on gonadal hormones and on renal reactions to changes in lithium dosage. These latter studies yielded results with important clinical implications. During the last year, he also published several book reviews in the field of transcultural psychology and psychiatry. Frank continues to contribute significantly to knowledge in Psychology, with an impressive publication record to date of more than 140 papers in peer-reviewed journals. The number of publications correlates with age, he muses.

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Creativity and Psychopathology

Dr. P. Grégoire, in cooperation with Dr. A-M. Ghadirian of the Mood Disorders Clinic, is involved in research exploring the function of creativity in its relationship to psychopathology and therapeutic change. Their present focus is on the measurement of creatvity and the relationship between manic-depressive illness and creativity. The role of creativity is explored as an important factor in adjustment to the changes brought about during the disease process as well as in the necessary reintegration within the rehabilitative context.

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This area of applied research, headed by Dr. P. Grégoire, is carried out in conjunction with the psychology internship program. The major focus is on development of working models for the integration of the three major theoretical orientations in psychotherapeutic work. The well-established contributions of the three basic psychological models to psychotherapy are explored as part of this research towards coordinated and compatible working clinical interventions so as to offer patients comprehensive psychotherapeutic services. The focus of our ongoing project is on the role of the patient's ego-strength in outcome of the therapist interventions.

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Dr. P. Grégoire, in cooperation with Dr. A. Wilner of Consultation Liaison, is studying the role of affect in the process of organ transplant. This work is based on the serial measurement of affect. In this series of research projects, the complex role of affect in the somatopsychic process of organ transplant is studied from the psychoanalytic as well as existential perspectives.

 

Follow-Up of High-Risk Infants

This project, headed by Dr. D. Messmer and involving the multidisciplinary team at the Neonatal Follow-up Clinic under the direction of Dr. A. Synnes, examines four years' worth of data accumulated on high-risk infants, with a particular focus on the relation between perinatal status and outcome at ages three and six. Dr. Messmer is particularly interested in looking at family issues as they influence development.

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Evaluation of a Preventive Educational Program on Depression

Drs. D. Sinyor and I. Bradley are involved in an ongoing evaluation of a ten-session psychoeducational program aimed at individuals who are at-risk for depression. This group program, run by doctoral students in psychology at McGill University and the University of Montréal, has been in place at the AMI for four years with approximately 60 completers. Pre-post program data on 40 of these completers indicated that the program was effective in increasing knowledge about depression and reducing self-rated depression scores. At post testing, participants reported that they regarded depression to be more treatable, to be feared less, and were less preoccupied with themselves and their depression. Further, they consistently rated the interpersonal components of the program as being especially useful.

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Attention Deficit Disorder in Adolescents and Adults: Development of a Diagnostic Interview

Dr. D. Sinyor and Dr. S. Sultan of Psychopharmacology (adolescents and adults) have been developing a semi-structured clinical interview to aid in the diagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder. This interview, which is administered over at least two diagnostic sessions, consists of 125 items tapping a number of dimensions: disorganization, distortions in time perception, intra- and interpersonal difficulties, identifiable lifestyle patterns, disruption of circadian rhythms, perceptual disconnectedness, restlessness, hyperactivity, distractibility, and attentional disregulation. They have collected data on 30 patients (age range 15-60), along with a discription of the therapeutic impact of the first dose of methylphenidate (Ritalin) in the office and its highly predictable time course.

 

Specialized Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Resistant Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Dr. Debbie Sookman’s ongoing clinical research focuses on development of innovative cognitive behavioral (CBT)  interventions to improve recovery rates for individuals suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder of different subtypes. Funded research is carried out in collaboration with colleagues at McGill University and other international universities. Dr. Sookman is an invited member of the international group of clinician/researcher experts in OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Cognitions Working Group, OCCWG) with whom she has collaborated on published papers and as chair on numerous international symposia. Dr. Sookman and colleagues developed a specialized cognitive behavioral conceptual and intervention model to improve treatment response of OCD patients with particularly intransigent symptoms. Dr. Sookman is currently working with other international experts on proposed criteria for CBT resistance and recovery in OCD, and on cognitive therapy interventions she developed to reduce risk aversion and increase recovery rates during specialized CBT for OCD.


 

Dr. D. Zuroff, working with Dr. A. Fielding of the Day Hospital, is examining the relations to dependency and self-criticism to Day Hospital patients' presenting symptoms, interpersonal problems, perceptions of the milieu, and response to treatment. To date, they have collected data on over 100 patients. This work represents the continuing effort to examine the psychometric properties of the measures of dependency and self-criticism.

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