Welcome to the Thombs Research Team Website!

Dr. Brett Thombs is a Professor in the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University, a Senior Investigator at the Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research at the Jewish General Hospital, Chair of the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care and Director of the Scleroderma Patient-centered Intervention Network (SPIN) and Director of the DEPRESsion Screening Data (DEPRESSD) Project.

Members of the Thombs Research Team work in three projects or areas: (1) SPIN, (2) the DEPRESSD Project, and (3) meta research and policy, which includes the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care (CTFPHC), the development of an extension of the CONsolidated Standards of Reporting Trials (CONSORT) statement for trials conducted in cohorts and other routinely collected data, and other meta-research projects.

Each project group includes research coordinators, research assistants, postdoctoral fellows, graduate and undergraduate students who collaboratively work on various aspects of the projects. Check out the individual project sections to learn more about each project team and our current team members.

Latest News...

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Dr. Yin Wu and the SPIN Team publish new article on factors associated with fears during COVID-19  | 2020/12/01

A new study, conducted by Dr. Yin Wu and the SPIN Team, has been published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research ( It was the first to explore the factors associated with fears during COVID-19 in a vulnerable population with a pre-existing medical condition and the first study that applied the validated COVID-19 Fears Questionnaire for Chronic Medical Conditions, which was developed based on input from over 100 people with scleroderma who shared their fears and with advice from the SPIN-COVID-19 Patient Advisory Team. By linking pre-COVID-19 data from the SPIN Cohort and COVID-19 data collected in April 2020, results from Canada, France, the United Kingdom, and the United States were compared, controlling for pre-COVID-19 anxiety symptoms. They found that fears due to COVID-19 among people with SSc were greatest among participants from the United Kingdom, followed by Canada, the United States, and France. Greater interference of breathing problems in daily activities and lower financial resource adequacy were associated with fear levels, as well.

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Congrats to Dr. Brooke Levis and the DEPRESSD Team on their publication in BMJ!  | 2020/11/11

We are thrilled to share that the DEPRESSD Team's IPD meta-analysis on the accuracy of the EPDS screening tool has been published in the BMJ. The study, led by Dr. Brooke Levis, synthesized data from 58 studies (>15,000 participants), and found that the combination of sensitivity and specificity was maximized at a cutoff value of ≥ 11. Accuracy was similar across reference standards and subgroups, including for pregnant and postpartum women. Read the full article here. Clinicians considering screening for depression with the EPDS can refer to our associated knowledge translation tool (, which estimates expected numbers of positive screens and true and false screening outcomes for different screening thresholds.

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Editorial by Dr. Thombs and others on Organizational Conflict of Interest in Guidelines  | 2020/11/01

The invited editorial was published in the British Journal of General Practice ( It follows the team’s study on organization COI published in CMAJ earlier this year ( See previous news item published on 2020/06/08 entitled "Team study on financial conflicts among Canadian producers of medication guidelines published in CMAJ".

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Watch Dr. Brett Thombs & Danielle Rice's presentations at the 19th Bi-Annual National Scleroderma Conference!  | 2020/10/30

Earlier this month, Dr. Brett Thombs and Danielle Rice presented at the 19th Bi-Annual National Scleroderma Conference. Scleroderma Canada’s conference was held virtually for the first time this year, due to COVID-19. As an invited Opening Keynote speaker on October 5th, Dr. Thombs introduced the audience to SPIN’s research and recent developments (watch the presentation in full here). On October 7th, Dr. Thombs announced the recipients of the 2019 and 2020 Maureen Sauvé Inspiration Award (access the recording here). Danielle followed with a presentation of her research on “Identifying the Needs and Priorities of Informal Caregivers for People Living with Systemic Sclerosis” (watch in full here and read the publication in Disability and Rehabilitation: Presentation slides and additional caregiving resources are available to all on the Scleroderma Ontario Resource Centre:

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DEPRESSD Team's new study published in the International Journal of Methods in Psychiatric Research  | 2020/10/22

We are happy to announce that the DEPRESSD team's paper, "Depression Prevalence Based on the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale Compared to Structured Clinical Interview for DSM Classification: Systematic Review and Individual Participant Data Meta-analysis", has been published in the International Journal of Methods in Psychiatric Research ( The study, led by Anita Lyubenova (MITACS summer intern for DEPRESSD, 2019) who was mentored by Dipika Neupane (analytical coordinator), examined data from 29 studies (7315 participants, 1017 major depression cases), to compare depression prevalence estimates based on the EPDS versus the SCID. We found that prevalence based on the most commonly used EPDS cutoffs, ≥ 10 to ≥ 13, overestimated depression prevalence by 12.6% to 1.9% compared to SCID. EPDS cutoff ≥ 14 provided pooled prevalence closest to SCID (pooled difference: -0.7%) but single-study differences were highly heterogeneous. Findings suggest that EPDS should not be used as a substitute for a validated diagnostic interview. 

For more news about the team, please click here ...