Taking a practical approach to health problems
Anxiety, depression, insomnia, obesity, cardiovascular issues, substance abuse and how each of these relates to culture are some of the most prevalent, incapacitating and distressing health problems facing Canadians. Concordia’s new Centre for Clinical Research in Health (CCRH) is taking a practical approach to alleviate these debilitating conditions.
“We’re testing science through clinical applications,” says Adam Radomsky, the centre’s director and associate professor in Concordia’s Department of Psychology. “And it’s a two-way relationship with our clients/patients often being the source of inspiration for research ideas, and our research, in turn, producing helpful strategies and interventions that will have all sorts of practical applications to improve people’s health.”
Radomsky and five of his colleagues – Michel Dugas, Jean-Philippe Gouin, Jennifer McGrath, Roisin O’Connor and Andrew Ryder – within the Department of Psychology approached the Faculty of Arts and Science to establish CCRH.
“We felt it was important to form a centre of excellence so that we could strengthen our individual and collaborative efforts, make everyone – including potential students and health practitioners – aware of our research and its practical applications, and give our students the resources to gain the acquired knowledge they need to be successful,” Radomsky says.
All six clinical psychologists have obtained grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and other prestigious funding agencies. Gouin holds a Tier II Canada Research Chair in chronic stress and health.
“We’re striving to improve the lives of Canadians struggling with a range of issues that we see as being fundamentally connected to each other – often by stress,” Radomsky says.
Participants are referred by doctors and clinics or recruited through publicity efforts on and off campus. Theories are tested through scientific analyses of treatment outcome, questionnaire responses, and other types of testing.
A centre like the CCHR is overdue, according to Radomsky. “We’ve been able to effectively treat various anxiety disorders with cognitive behaviour therapy – CBT – since the 1960s, for example, but most Canadians don’t have access to CBT because our field of work hasn’t been recognized to the extent that it should be,” he says. “There’s so much that can be done instead of or in addition to using medication.”
CCRH is researching intervention strategies for problems that affect most everyone to some extent but are debilitating for some. A current project, for example, is investigating a new CBT for compulsive checkers – people who repeatedly verify, for example, whether their stove is off, or door is locked.
The interconnectedness of health conditions will be explored through projects such as an investigation of the links among stress, a lack of sleep, and obesity.
Concordia has applied for infrastructure funding to develop the centre, which currently occupies a small space within the Psychology (PY) Building on the Loyola Campus. “We hope to have good news to announce in the fall,” Radomsky says.
• Centre for Clinical Research in Health
• Michel Dugas, and the Anxiety Disorders Laboratory
• Jean-Philippe Gouin
• Jennifer McGrath, and the Pediatric Public Health Psychology Lab
• Roisin O’Connor
• Adam Radomsky, and the Anxiety and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Laboratory
• Andrew Ryder, and the Culture, Health, and Personality Lab
• Concordia Department of Psychology