Impact of social determinants of mental health on child and parent risk, resilience and support access in the COVID-19 era: A nested mixed-methods study of short and long-term outcomes

The study entitled, “Impact of social determinants of mental health on child and parent risk, resilience and support access in the COVID-19 era: A nested mixed-methods study of short and long-term outcomes” was funded by the CIHR Operating Grant: Understanding and mitigating the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on children, youth and families in Canada competition, in addition to Michael Smith Health Research BC funds. The project is pan-Canadian, but largely focused on BC participants.

Project co-leads include Evelyn Stewart MD and Hasina Samji PhD, who brought together their extensive collaborative networks. Dr. Stewart is a UBC professor, child and adolescent psychiatrist and Director of Research for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, BCCH. Dr. Samji is an epidemiologist, SFU assistant professor and senior scientist at BCCDC.

Between November 2020 and July 2021, the group collected baseline data for the Personal Impacts of COVID-19 Survey (PICS), a Canadian study identifying vulnerability factors to poor mental health related to preexisting medical and living conditions, sex/gender minorities and poverty. Based on our PICS baseline findings, which includes 3,351 Canadians, rates of several COVID-era mental illnesses were several-fold higher than expected; and one quarter of parents reported needing but not receiving mental health support.

Our mixed-methods study will build upon PICS findings by recontacting participants to better understand their pandemic-era mental health service access, future preferences and the role of social risk and resilience factors. It will also identify those with persisting, resolving and newly emerging mental illness during the COVID-19 recovery phase. In this way, our study will provide a current, comprehensive perspective on families’ experience of the COVID-19 pandemic and how services providers, community organizations and policymakers can best serve child and parent populations at highest risk for ongoing mental health impacts.

Funding competition: CIHR Operating Grant: Understanding and mitigating the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on children, youth and families in Canada

Funders: CIHR; Michael Smith Health Research BC

Open MRI for assessing joint biomechanics – applications for osteoarthritis

Hip osteoarthritis is prevalent, disabling and costly to individuals and the healthcare system. Symptomatic hip osteoarthritis affects 4.2 percent of people over 50, and radiographic degenerative changes are seen in almost 20 percent of the same population. In many patients, total hip arthroplasty is used to relieve pain and improve function. Though effective in improving a patient’s quality of life, joint replacements will eventually fail and require revision surgeries that have a higher complication rate and less predictable results. Better strategies to delay or stop the progression of osteoarthritis are needed, which can only be created with a clearer understanding of the disease’s etiology.

While there is strong evidence that structural changes around the hip are major etiological factors in the development of osteoarthritis, it is not clear how to protect hips from the disease. Anatomical abnormalities such as cam-type femoroacetabular impingement (a deformity of the hip bones) may account for 90 percent of hip osteoarthritis cases. However, it is not clear why only some people with these deformities get hip osteoarthritis. It is widely assumed that the relationships between activity and deformity size and their effect on joint mechanics are critical. Investigating these relationships has not been possible to date because there have been few well-validated methods for assessing impingement directly in vivo. This project will answer two research questions:

  1. Which activities lead to direct cam impingement at the hip in patients with FAI deformities?
  2. How is this impingement influenced by deformity size?

To answer these questions, we will use gait analysis to measure hip movements and mechanics in symptomatic and healthy subjects for a range of activities associated with hip pain. These measurements will be used to develop subject-specific numerical models predicting direct impingement for each participant. Model predictions of direct impingement will be validated by scanning participants using an established protocol in UBC’s upright open MRI scanner.

We have developed a knowledge translation strategy for this project with the Arthritis Patient Advisory Board; they will post the project summary on their website as well as profile the research findings on social media. Results will be published in both clinically- and research-oriented journals and at conferences for both clinicians and scientists.