Position Available: Full-time Data Manager and Analyst
Dr. Brett Thombs (www.thombsresearchteam.ca/) and Dr. Andrea Benedetti (https://www.mcgill.ca/epibiostat-occh/andrea-benedetti) of McGill University and the Scleroderma Patient-centered Intervention Network (SPIN; www.spinsclero.com) are seeking a full-time Data Manager and Analyst to contribute to observational studies and novel trials of patient-centred interventions in a rare disease context (PDF for more details).
Start date: Start date is flexible, and applications will be considered on a rolling basis.
To apply: applicants should send (1) a cover letter, (2) a curriculum vitae, (3) an unofficial transcript, (4)a writing sample, and (5) contact information for three references to Ms. Marie-Eve Carrier (firstname.lastname@example.org).
COVID-MINDS Interview with Dr. Thombs
See Q & A with Dr. Brett Thombs and COVID-MINDS on mental health research in the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Thombs discusses our living systematic review and what we have learned conducting this work: [LINK]
Congratulations to Nora Østbø and the SPIN Team on SPIN-DINE publication!
We are happy to share that the SPIN Team's study on nutrition information resources was published in Arthritis Care and Research - Open Rheumatology. Study investigators conducted nominal group technique sessions with people with scleroderma to examine the use of nutrition and diet information resources, and perceptions of these resources. This study is the first step of the SPIN - Diet and Nutrition Information (DINE) project led by Nora Østbø, which aims to identify and address existing information gaps in the area of nutrition and scleroderma, with the long-term goal of providing tools for people with SSc to find and access evidence-based information and guidance on nutrition and diet. Read more here: [LINK].
New CIHR funding for the SPIN team!
We are excited to announce that our project “Mental Health in People at Risk from COVID-19 Due to a Pre-Existing Medical Condition: Longitudinal Study of Risk Factors, Outcomes, and the Role of Vaccination” has been awarded a one-year CIHR grant. SPIN launched the SPIN-COVID-19 Cohort in April of 2020 to better understand mental health concerns of individuals with a pre-existing medical condition during the pandemic. This grant will allow our research team to continue this important work!
Position Available: Full-time Research Assistant
SPIN is currently seeking applicants for a Full-time Research Assistant position in patient-engaged health research. (More details about this position).
Eligibility: Applicants should be fluent in English (spoken and written) and French (spoken; written French an asset); have a degree in psychology, health sciences, social sciences, or related field with strong academic record; and be able to commit for at least one and ideally two years.
Start Date: September 2021.
To apply: Applicants should send (1) a cover letter explaining their interest in the position and how this would support their career goals, (2) a curriculum vitae, (3) an unofficial transcript, and (4) an English writing sample and (if possible) an additional writing sample in French, to Marie- Eve Carrier at email@example.com). Applications will be reviewed until the position is filled. French language capacity will be assessed during interview.
Congratulations to the COVID-19 Living Systematic Review (LSR) Team on receiving new CIHR funding!
We are excited to share that our LSR team was awarded a one-year grant ($220,052) by CIHR’s Emerging COVID-19 Research Gaps and Priorities Funding Opportunity for conducting our project “Mental Health during the COVID-19 Pandemic: An Ongoing Living Systematic Review of Mental Health Burden and Intervention Effectiveness to Inform Management Strategies During and Post-COVID-19.” This will allow the team to continue to update its synthesis of evidence on mental health in COVID-19.
Congratulations to the DEPRESSD team on receiving a new CIHR grant!
We are excited to share that the DEPRESSD team was awarded a 3-year grant ($279,224) by CIHR to develop and test statistical methods for individual participant data meta-analysis in diagnostic test accuracy. A special thank you to Dr. Yin Wu, Dr. Zelalem Negeri, Sheryl Sun and Dr. Brooke Levis, who worked closely with Dr. Andrea Benedetti on the CIHR funding competition!
Congratulations to Dr. Brett Thombs who has been awarded the Scleroderma Foundation’s 2021 “Messenger of Hope” award!
We are excited to share that Dr. Brett Thombs has just been awarded the Scleroderma Foundation’s 2021 “Messenger of Hope” award. This award was presented to Brett in recognition of his tremendous work with the scleroderma community through the SPIN programs that have elevated disease awareness, strengthened self-care among individuals living with the disease. Brett received this award on Saturday evening, July 17 in a virtual awards ceremony as part of the 2021 National Scleroderma Conference. Click HERE to watch the ceremony.
DEPRESSD Team published a new IPDMA protocol - Equivalence of the Accuracy of 9 and 10 item Versions of the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale for Screening to Detect Major Depression among Pregnant and Postpartum Women on OSF
Dr. Xia Qiu, a visiting PhD Student, and the DEPRESSD team published their protocol on OSF. The objectives of the study are (1) to evaluate the equivalence of continuous EPDS-9 and full EPDS scores for assessing depressive symptom severity; and (2) to assess the equivalence of the accuracy of the EPDS-9 and full EPDS across relevant cut-offs for screening to detect major depression. Read more here.
Welcome new team member!
Suiqiong Fan, as a Research and Synthesis Analytical Coordinator, will be joining the DEPRESSD and COVID-19 Living Systematic Review projects on June 21. Suiqiong completed her BSc in Global Health at Wuhan University in 2019 and recently completed her MSc in Public Health from McGill. At McGill, Suiqiong worked on two projects related to child marriage. We’re fortunate to have her join the team!
Position Available: SPIN Postdoctoral Fellow
SPIN is currently seeking applicants for a postdoctoral fellowship position in patient-engaged health research and novel clinical trials. (More details about this position).
Role: The postdoctoral fellow will lead or assist with ongoing SPIN projects and will have the opportunity to develop their own research.
Eligibility: Applicants should have a recent doctoral degree in a health-related field, such as psychology, public health, or epidemiology. The doctoral degree should be obtained by the date of hire.
Start Date: Start date is flexible, and applications will be considered on a rolling basis.
To apply: Applicants should send (1) a cover letter explaining their interest in the fellowship and how working in this position would support their career goals, (2) a curriculum vitae, (3) an unofficial transcript, (4) reprints or preprints of published articles or submitted manuscripts, and (5) contact information for three references to Ms. Marie-Eve Carrier (firstname.lastname@example.org).
SPIN-CHAT results featured on The Scleroderma News!
The Scleroderma News published an article, entitled "Group Sessions Helpful for Mild Anxiety During COVID-19, Trial Finds”. The article featured a clinical psychologist Dr. Jill M. Newby's comments on the effectiveness of the SPIN-CHAT (COVID-19 Home-isolation Activities Together) Program in providing scleroderma participants with psychosocial tools and group activities to maintain mental health and break isolation during the pandemic. Its findings also emphasize “how essential it is to test, rather than assume what interventions work to improve mental health in susceptible groups during pandemic situations,” Newby added. Read the article here.
Dr. Thombs interviewed on Montreal CTV News about work of COVID-19 Living Systematic Review Team
On May 22nd, Dr. Thombs was interview on Montreal CTV News, where he discussed changes in mental health from prior to COVID-19 to during the pandemic. Based on findings from the team's ongoing living systematic review of over 50 000 scientific articles, Dr. Thombs pointed out that across population groups, results suggest that, rather than a mental health crisis, at a population level, there has been a high level of resilience during COVID-19. Click here to watch the full interview.
SPIN-CHAT Trial receives media coverage!
A Healio Rheumatology article by Jason Laday, entitled “Mental health intervention for scleroderma patients in COVID-19 lockdown sees mixed results”, featured Dr. Thombs’ comments on the SPIN-CHAT (COVID-19 Home-isolation Activities Together) Trial. Dr. Thombs highlights the importance of the SPIN-CHAT Trial - “A key takeaway from our trial is that this kind of ongoing collaborative group can move quickly and effectively to meet patient needs in real time. In terms of clinical significance, our trial showed that simple, multi-faceted strategies to address mental health, along with good peer support, can be used effectively by our vulnerable rheumatology patients to improve their mental health in COVID-19 and beyond.” Read the article here.
Congratulations to Dipika and the DEPRESSD team on their publication in the IJMPR!
We are happy to share that the DEPRESSD Team's study on selective cutoff reporting in depression screening studies was published in the International Journal of Methods in Psychiatric Research (IJMPR). This study, led by Dipika Neupane, compared selective cutoff reporting in the PHQ-9 and EPDS. The study highlights the importance of reporting accuracy estimates or contingency tables for all relevant cutoffs. Congratulations to Dipika and the rest of the DEPRESSD Team! Read more here.
DEPRESSD Team's meta-analysis on the accuracy of the HADS-D screening tool published in the BMJ
We are excited to share that the DEPRESSD Team's IPDMA on the accuracy of the HADS-D screening tool has been published in the BMJ. The project, led by Dr. Yin Wu, combined individual participant data from 101 studies (>22,000 participants) to evaluate the screening accuracy of the HADS-D. Combined sensitivity and specificity of the HADS-D was maximized at a cut-off of >=7. Accuracy was similar across reference standards and subgroups, and when published results from studies that did not contribute data were included. Read the full article: here Clinicians and researchers who consider screening for depression with the HADS-D can refer to our associated knowledge translation tool which estimates the expected number of positive screens as well as true and false screening outcomes for different screening thresholds.
SPIN-CHAT results featured in Actualités UQAM press release
Actualités UQAM, the Université de Québec à Montréal's (UQÀM) news bulletin, published a press release, entitled " Groupes de soutien par visioconférence" (which translates to "Videoconferenced-based support groups"). The article featured professional educator Dr. Ghassan El-Baalbaki's and scleroderma support group facilitator Violet Konrad's comments on the effectiveness of the SPIN-CHAT (COVID-19 Home-isolation Activities Together) Program in providing scleroderma participants with psychosocial tools and group activities to maintain mental health and break isolation during the pandemic. Read the article (available in French only) here.
SPIN publishes protocol for living systematic review on non-pharmacological and non-surgical interventions in scleroderma
Marie-Nicole Discepola and the SPIN Team published their protocol in BMJ Open. Their living systematic review will compile evidence on the effectiveness of non-pharmacological and non-surgical interventions on mental and physical health outcomes. As a living systematic review, once the initial evidence is assessed, the team will keep updating on an ongoing basis so that people in the scleroderma community can easily access the most current evidence on the project website (forthcoming). Congratulations to Marie-Nicole, Andrea Carboni-Jiménez, Dr. Kwakkenbos, and Dr. Richard Henry, Dr. Thombs and the rest of the team! Read more here.
Elsa-Lynn Nassar receives the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Société et culture (FRQSC) Master's Award
Congratulations to Elsa-Lynn Nassar, who received the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Société et culture (FRQSC) Master's Award, in addition to a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Canada Graduate Scholarship for her Master’s training with the Thombs research team (see previous item on 2021/04/01)! Elsa began her MSc program today, and will be working with both the SPIN and DEPRESSD teams.
CONSORT-ROUTINE report, extension of CONSORT reporting guidelines, published in BMJ
The CONSORT-ROUTINE, an extension of the CONSORT reporting guideline for innovative trials conducted using cohorts and routinely collected data (electronic health records, registries, administrative databases) was published today in BMJ (here). CONSORT-ROUTINE, which was led by our team, provides guidance to support adequate reporting of these types of trials. Congratulations to Dr. Kwakkenbos, Mahrukh Imran, Danielle Rice, and Dr. Thombs, who led or were part of the CONSORT-ROUTINE project team. An article that describes the methods used to develop CONSORT-ROUTINE was published simultaneously in BMJ Open (here).
A segment by Dr. Thombs on the SPIN-CHAT Trial results featured on CJAD 800 this Sunday!
This coming Sunday, April 25th, at 12:50pm EDT, radio station CJAD 800 AM will feature a short segment by Dr. Thombs on the SPIN-CHAT Trial. Tune in to learn more! For additional information on the study, see here.
UPDATE: Click here to listen to April 25th's Health Matters podcast, "The latest research advances in diabetes and wearable technology" (Dr. Thombs's segment starts at 30:53).
SPIN-CHAT Trial Results published in Lancet Rheumatology
Results from the SPIN-CHAT (COVID-19 Home-isolation Activities Together) Program have been published in Lancet Rheumatology. The trial evaluated the effects of a videoconference-based program on anxiety symptoms and other mental health outcomes among people with scleroderma. It tested a multi-faceted strategy designed in collaboration with patient advisors. Eligible participants from the SPIN-COVID-19 Cohort were invited to take part in 3 sessions a week for 4 weeks. 172 participants were randomly assigned to intervention (n=86) or waitlist (n=86). SPIN-CHAT did not significantly improve mental health by the end of the 4-week intervention period, but symptoms of anxiety and depression were significantly improved 6 weeks later. Congratulations to the SPIN Team and their international team of researchers, professional educators, support group moderators, and SPIN-COVID-19 Patient Advocates! Read the article here. The accompanying editorial can be found here.
Congratulations to Parash Bhandari and the DEPRESSD Team on their new publication!
A new study, led by Parash Bhandari and the DEPRESSD Team, has been published in the Journal of Clinical Epidemiology. This is the first study to use real patient data to estimate the degree that data-driven methods result in selection of inaccurate optimal cutoffs and bias in accuracy estimates. The team found that the optimal cutoffs identified in primary accuracy studies are often incorrect and accuracy estimates are often overstated. Sensitivity was substantially overestimated with a minimal underestimation of specificity, particularly in smaller samples. The implications are twofold: (1) researchers should avoid making recommendations about cutoffs to use in practice and accuracy when reporting results from small studies, and (2) clinicians should only select cutoffs generated from well-conducted meta-analyses or those that are identified consistently across multiple studies. Read more about the study here.
Elsa-Lynn Nassar awarded SSHRC Canada Graduate Scholarship for her Master's training with the team!
Congratulations to Elsa-Lynn Nassar, who was awarded a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Canada Graduate Scholarship for her Master’s training with the Thombs research team. Elsa will be joining the SPIN & DEPRESSD teams in May. She began her undergraduate studies at the Lebanese American University and is currently completing her Bachelor's degree at Concordia University. Elsa has already been involved in a number of research projects including work on obsessive-compulsive disorder, bullying, eating disorders, and mental health symptom expression from a cross-cultural perspective.
National Post coverage on Dr. Thombs and ongoing work of COVID-19 Living Systematic Review Team
Dr. Thombs' comments on research done by the COVID-19 Living Systematic Review Team were featured in a National Post article,"There's a lot of resilience': Why mental health is holding up to COVID-19 better than expected". Dr. Thombs describes evidence for mental health resilience at the population level while outlining the need to be concerned about mental health in vulnerable groups, based on findings from the team's ongoing living systematic review of over 50 000 scientific articles. Read the article here.
Dr. Thombs and work of COVID-19 Living Systematic Review Team featured in Radio-Canada
A Radio-Canada article by Valérie Ouellet, entitled "Après les mesures sanitaires s'enchaînent les SOS en santé mentale" (which translates to "After the public health measures comes the mental health SOS"), featured Dr. Thombs' remarks on the validity of call volumes as an indicator of distress and the credibility of suicide rates along with recent research from the COVID-19 Living Systematic Review Team. Dr. Thombs highlights the global effects of the pandemic on mental health, based on findings from the team's ongoing living systematic review of over 45 000 scientific articles, and the monitoring of 8 English and Chinese databases. Read the article (available in French only) here.
Congratulations on Dr. Shadi Gholizadeh and the SPIN Team's new publication on body image!
We are excited to share with you our latest SPIN publication. SPIN's former postdoctoral research fellow, Dr. Shadi Gholizadeh's article on the effects of cosmetic and other camouflage interventions on appearance-related and psychological outcomes among adults with visible differences in appearance has now been published online by BMJ Open. Results from this systematic review of one head-to-head trial and five trials with waiting list or routine care comparators revealed that conclusions about the effectiveness of non-surgical cosmetic or other camouflage interventions could not be drawn, highlighting the critical need for well-designed and conducted trials.In addition to Dr. Thombs, current and former team members who contributed to the study included Danielle Rice, Andrea Carboni-Jiménez, Dr. Linda Kwakkenbos, and Ankur Krishnan, in collaboration with the SPIN Body Image Patient Advisory Team. Read more here.
DEPRESSD Team awarded $200,000 in latest CIHR competition
Congratulations to the DEPRESSD team, which was successful in obtaining two $100,000 Project Grants from CIHR, through the Personalized Health priority announcement! One proposal was for updating our databases on the PHQ-9, EPDS, HADS, and GDS depression screening tools. The other was for advancing statistical methods to use for developing personalized depression screening models.
Sami Harb receives media coverage on recent publication on the Physical ACtivity Enhancement (SPIN-PACE) project
Sami Harb’s MSc thesis (recently published in Arthritis Care & Research) was featured in Healio Rheumatology (https://www.healio.com/news/rheumatology/20210225/fatigue-raynauds-top-physical-activity-barriers-for-patients-with-scleroderma). Congratulations to Sami and the rest of the SPIN team! To learn more about the study, see previous news item published on 2021/02/03 entitled "Results from the SPIN-PACE Survey, Sami Harb's MSc thesis, published in Arthritis Care & Research".
Congratulations to Dr. Felix Fischer and the DEPRESSD Team on their new publication!
A new study, led by Dr. Felix Fischer (Psychometrics and Health Outcomes Research, Department of Psychosomatic Medicine of The Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin), Dr. Brooke Levis and the rest of the DEPRESSD Team, has been published in Psychological Medicine. The study used an individual participant data meta-analysis (IPDMA) database to compare different scoring methods based on latent variable models of the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9). Read more about the study: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0033291721000131
Results from the SPIN-PACE Survey, Sami Harb's MSc thesis, published in Arthritis Care & Research
This week, a survey study related to the SPIN - Physical ACtivity Enhancement (SPIN-PACE) project was accepted for publication in Arthritis Care & Research. The objectives were to determine the (1) prevalence and importance of physical activity barriers experienced in scleroderma and (2) likelihood of using possible facilitators to overcome barriers. In brief, among 721 respondents, medical-related barriers were most prevalent, and fatigue and Raynaud's phenomenon were most important. Facilitators likely to be used involved adapting exercise, taking care of one’s body, keeping warm, and protecting skin. The SPIN team will later use the survey results to develop and test the online SPIN-PACE program with the aim of supporting people with scleroderma in leading an active lifestyle. Congratulations to Sami and the rest of the SPIN Team! Read more here.
Andrea Carboni Jiménez accepted into the Bachelor of Civil Law (BCL)/Juris Doctor (JD) Program at McGill University
Team member Andrea Carboni Jiménez one of 180 students with excellent academic track records to be accepted into the Bachelor of Civil Law (BCL)/Juris Doctor (JD) program at McGill University. Andrea completed her second undergraduate honours thesis under the supervision of Dr. Brett Thombs researching the burden experienced by caregivers of people with various medical conditions. Her Master’s of Psychiatry thesis focuses on examining the effectiveness of psychological interventions delivered to incarcerated individuals with (1) mood disorders and (2) post traumatic stress disorder. In addition, Andrea is currently leading a project evaluating health outcomes from randomized control trials that have tested questionnaire-based screening. Congratulations Andrea!
Dr. Thombs featured on CBC News with tips on mental health in COVID-19 for the new year
A CBC Life - Culture article by Chloe Rose Stuart-Ulin, entitled "Expert advice on how to tackle resolutions for 2021", featured Dr. Brett Thombs' tips on mental health and the importance of staying connected. Read the article here:
Dr. Henry awarded SPOR grant for a research project examining the incorporation of recommendations for gender-diverse people in clinical practice guidelines
Dr. Richard Henry was awarded a $10,000 grant by the Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research (SPOR) Evidence Alliance to fund his research on the "Incorporation of recommendations for gender-diverse people in clinical practice guidelines: A review of traditionally sex-binary guidelines and recommendations". The goal of the project is to improve health care guidance for gender-diverse individuals by providing guideline producers and health care practitioners with information about the degree that existing guidelines address needs of gender-diverse individuals and examples where they have been addressed appropriately. Dr. Henry's project was one of two (out of 25 applicants) funded by the highly competitive SPOR Seed Grant.
Dr. Yin Wu and the SPIN Team publish new article on factors associated with fears during COVID-19
A new study, conducted by Dr. Yin Wu and the SPIN Team, has been published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpsychores.2020.110314). 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.
Congrats to Dr. Brooke Levis and the DEPRESSD Team on their publication in BMJ!
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 (depressionscreening100.com/epds), which estimates expected numbers of positive screens and true and false screening outcomes for different screening thresholds.
Editorial by Dr. Thombs and others on Organizational Conflict of Interest in Guidelines
The invited editorial was published in the British Journal of General Practice (https://bjgp.org/content/70/700/530). It follows the team’s study on organization COI published in CMAJ earlier this year (www.cmaj.ca/content/192/23/E617/tab-article-info). See previous news item published on 2020/06/08 entitled "Team study on financial conflicts among Canadian producers of medication guidelines published in CMAJ".
Watch Dr. Brett Thombs & Danielle Rice's presentations at the 19th Bi-Annual National Scleroderma Conference!
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: https://doi.org/10.1080/09638288.2018.1557268). Presentation slides and additional caregiving resources are available to all on the Scleroderma Ontario Resource Centre: www.sclerodermaontario.ca/file-share
DEPRESSD Team's new study published in the International Journal of Methods in Psychiatric Research
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 (https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/mpr.1860). 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.
Team publishes a new study on fears due to COVID-19
A new study, conducted by Dr. Yin Wu and the SPIN Team, has been published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0022399920308333). Results of the study demonstrate that the COVID-19 Fears Questionnaire for Chronic Medical Conditions is a valid instrument to assess fear among people at risk due to pre-existing medical conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Fears experienced during the COVID-19 crisis were first solicited from 121 people with scleroderma. Then, in collaboration with the SPIN Patient Advisory Team, items to evaluate for inclusion in a COVID-19-specific fear measure were developed. The COVID-19 Fears Questionnaire for Chronic Medical Conditions was validated in the ongoing SPIN cohort of almost 800 people with SSc, and the its validity was verified in the second wave of the cohort.
Congratulations on SPIN Team's new publication in Health Psychology!
We are happy to announce that the team's paper, "Balance of Group Sizes in Randomized Controlled Trials Published in American Psychological Association Journals", has been published in Health Psychology. The study, led by Mara Cañedo-Ayala who was mentored by Danielle Rice, examined data from 115 eligible studies to evaluate whether sample size differences between arms of two-arm parallel group randomized controlled trials published in American Psychological Association-affiliated journals were consistently smaller than expected by chance with simple randomization. They found that there was a significantly greater number of trials with smaller sample size differences between trial arms than would be expected by chance. Thus, education is needed to ensure that randomization procedures are implemented as intended and fully and accurately reported. Read more about the study: https://doi.apa.org/doiLanding?doi=10.1037%2Fhea0001020
SPIN Team publishes new study on mental health during COVID-19
The SPIN Team has published results from a study that compares symptoms of anxiety among 435 participants in the ongoing SPIN Cohort. They found that, on average, anxiety symptoms during April 2020 were substantially higher than prior to COVID-19, whereas depressive symptom change was negligible. Overall, anxiety increased by a clinically meaningful amount for 51% of participants. Anxiety symptoms increased most for participants from the United Kingdom and United States, with lower increases for Canada and France. Greater anxiety increases also appeared to be associated with younger age, shorter time since diagnosis, and less adequate financial resources and non-employment. The study results are available free-of-charge via the following link: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022399920308242
Congratulations to Brooke Levis and the DEPRESSD Team: LDI Paper of the Month!
We are excited to share that the Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research has selected the DEPRESSD Team's recent JAMA publication as the September 2020 Paper of the Month. The project, led by Dr. Brooke Levis, combined individual participant data from 100 studies (>44,000 participants) to evaluate the screening accuracy of the PHQ-2 alone and in combination with the PHQ-9. The combination of PHQ-2 (with a cutoff of >=2) followed by the PHQ-9 (with a cutoff of >=10) was found to have similar accuracy to PHQ-9 alone, but reduced the number of participants needing to complete the full PHQ-9 by 57%. Access the full article here: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2766865
DEPRESSD's new individual participant data meta-analysis published in Journal of Psychosomatic Research
We are happy to announce that the DEPRESSD team's paper, "Depression prevalence using the HADS-D compared to SCID major depression classification: An individual participant data meta-analysis", has been published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0022399920308187). The study, led by Eliana Brehaut (undergraduate thesis student) who was mentored by Dipika Neupane (analytical coordinator), examined data from 41 studies (6005 participants, 689 with major depression), to compare depression prevalence estimates based on the HADS-D versus the SCID. They found that prevalence based on HADS-D ≥ 8 (24.5%) was more than double the SCID (11.6%), and while HADS-D ≥ 11 (10.7%) was similar, single-study differences were highly heterogeneous. Findings suggest that the HADS-D should not be used as a substitute for a validated diagnostic interview.
Congratulations to Dr. Andrea Benedetti and the DEPRESSD Team on their new publication!
A new study, led by Andrea Benedetti and the DEPRESSD Team, in collaboration with Dr. Gerta Rücker (University of Freiburg) and Dr. Hayley Jones (University of Bristol), has been published in Research Synthesis Methods. The study used DEPRESSD PHQ-9 data to compare 3 methods for meta-analyzing diagnostic test accuracy data when primary studies report accuracy results for only some of the possible cutoff thresholds. Read more about the study: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/jrsm.1443.
SPIN-CHAT Program qualitative interview study funded by CIHR
Recently, SPIN received a CIHR grant for conducting qualitative interviews with SPIN-CHAT (SPIN COVID-19 Home-isolation Activities Together) Program Trial participants. SPIN-CHAT participants will be recruited by the SPIN team and invited to individual videoconference-based follow-up interviews that will be led by our research partners, Kelsey Ellis, Delaney Duchek, and Mannat Bansal, from the University of Calgary, under the supervision of Dr. Amanda Wurz. The CIHR funding will also help support SPIN's infrastructure and help us continue to provide online resources to the scleroderma community, free-of-charge.
Team receives supplementary funding from CIHR for the living systematic review
This week, members of the team received an additional $199,836 from the CIHR to supplement previous CIHR and MI4 funding for a living systematic review on mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. This grant supports continued work in dissemination and processing a high volume of evidence. Thank you to the CIHR! Congratulations to team members Yutong Wang, Ankur Krishnan, Kevin Jutras, Olivia Bonardi, Danielle Rice, Jill Boruff, Marleine Azar, Chen He, Dr. Sarah Markham, Sheryl Sun, Dr. Yin Wu, Ian Thombs-Vite, and Drs. Benedetti and Thombs.
Congratulations on DEPRESSD Team's new publication in Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics!
We are happy to announce that the DEPRESSD Team published a paper entitled “Probability of Major Depression Classification Based on the SCID, CIDI, and MINI Diagnostic Interviews: A Synthesis of Three Individual Participant Data Meta-Analyses” in Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics. This study, led by Dr. Yin Wu (DEPRESSD’s postdoctoral research fellow), combined datasets from over 200 studies (around 70,000 participants, ) and showed how different diagnostic interviews perform differently, was really important and the first meta-research synthesized IPD meta-analyses. The results suggested that, adjusting for depressive symptom levels and participant characteristics, compared to the SCID, the MINI classified major depression more often. Odds of depression classification with the CIDI increased less as symptom levels increased. Based on the findings, mental health researchers should carefully consider the interview characteristics when interpreting research that used diagnostic interviews to classify depression.
Read more about the study https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32814337/
Andrea Carboni-Jiménez awarded the Delta Upsilon Memorial Scholarship
Team member Andrea Carboni-Jiménez was recently awarded a Delta Upsilon Memorial Scholarship to support the second year of her graduate studies at McGill University. This award is open to students who have received an undergraduate degree from McGill University in any faculty, and is tenable for graduate study at any recognized university. Andrea's master's thesis is a systematic review evaluating the effectiveness of psychological therapies among incarcerated populations with (1) mood disorders and (2) post-traumatic stress disorder. Congratulations, Andrea!
Dr. Richard Henry receives the Distinguished Dissertation Award from Virginia Commonwealth University
Congratulations to Dr. Richard Henry, who was awarded the Distinguished Dissertation Award in Social Sciences, Business and Education from Virginia Commonwealth University. Dr. Henry's dissertation focused on examining the relationships among Parkinson’s disease symptoms, stigma, and mental health outcomes and the ways in which social support and spirituality might mitigate negative mental health outcomes. He recently joined the SPIN team as a postdoctoral fellow and will be involved in various SPIN research projects.
Eliana Brehaut awarded the McGill Dow-Hickson Scholarship
DEPRESSD summer student Eliana Brehaut has received a McGill Dow-Hickson Scholarship, which is given to students "entering the penultimate or the final year of the Honours programs in English Literature, Philosophy or Psychology. Awarded by a joint committee of the scholarships committees of the Faculties of Arts and of Science upon the recommendations of the departments concerned". Eliana recently completed her first honours thesis, which compared depression prevalence estimates based on the HADS-D, a commonly used screening tool, versus the SCID, a validated diagnostic interview. Eliana will be continuing her research with the team during the fall semester. Her next project will examine methods of optimal cutoff selection in depression screening studies.
Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care – New Guideline
The Task Force, led by Dr. Thombs, published a new guideline on screening for esophageal adenocarcinoma in patients with chronic gastroesopageal reflus disease without alarm symptoms. The Task Force develops and disseminates guidance for prevention in Canadian primary care. This new guideline reports that evidence does not support screening and that resources would be used more wisely for other services with evidence of benefit for patients. Link to guideline: https://www.cmaj.ca/content/192/27/E768.
SPIN-CHAT Trial Funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research
The SPIN COVID-19 Home-isolation Activities Together (SPIN-CHAT) Program Trial was funded by CIHR. The trial tests the effects of a muti-faceted video-conference-based group mental health intervention on anxiety and other mental health symptoms. The trial was launched with funds from the McGill Interdisciplinary Initiative in Infection and Immunity Emergency COVID-19 Research Fund and generous contributions fromScleroderma Canada, made possible by an educational grant for patient support programming from Boehringer Ingelheim; the Scleroderma Society of Ontario; Scleroderma Manitoba; Scleroderma Atlantic; Scleroderma Australia; Scleroderma New South Wales; Scleroderma Victoria; Scleroderma Queensland; Scleroderma SASK; Scleroderma Association of BC; and Sclérodermie Québec. Results for the trial will be available in July. Link to trial protocol: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022399920304001.
Dr. Thombs in the news – COVID-19 and Mental Health in Quebec and Canada
See Dr. Thombs’ comments on a recent survey of mental health in Quebec and the rest of Canada by the Canadian Press, which appeared in the Globe and Mail (https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-majority-of-quebecers-believe-first-wave-of-covid-19-pandemic-is-over/), L’actualité (https://lactualite.com/actualites/une-majorite-de-quebecois-croit-que-la-premiere-vague-est-terminee/), and other outlets.
The Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care holds its June 2020 meeting online
The Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care (Task Force) is holding its first ever online meeting on June 15-16, 2020. The meeting is led by Dr. Thombs (Task Force Chair) and has been organized by team members Daniela Cortinovis (Task Force Manager) and Julia Nordlund (Task Force Administrator). The Task Force typically meets in-person three times a year to discuss recommendations on screening practices, methodology for guideline development, communication activities, knowledge translation initiatives and much more! Due to COVID-19, the June 2020 meeting is being held via videoconference. More information about the Task Force guidelines and activities is available here: https://canadiantaskforce.ca/
Congrats to Brooke Levis and the DEPRESSD team on their JAMA publication!
We are thrilled to announce that a DEPRESSD project evaluating the screening accuracy of the PHQ-2 alone and in combination with the PHQ-9 has been published in JAMA. The study, led by Brooke Levis, synthesized data from 100 studies (>44,000 participants), and found that the combination of PHQ-2 (with a cutoff of >=2) followed by the PHQ-9 (with a cutoff of >=10) had similar accuracy to PHQ-9 alone, but reduced the number of participants needing to complete the full PHQ-9 by 57%. Access the full article here: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2766865
Team study on financial conflicts among Canadian producers of medication guidelines published in CMAJ
Congratulations to former team members Katie Elder and Kimberly Turner, along with Dr. Thombs, whose study entitled “Reporting of financial conflicts of interest by Canadian clinical practice guideline producers: a descriptive study” was recently published in CMAJ. The study found that most Canadian guidelines on medications are produced by disease interest groups and medical specialty societies that receive funding from the makers of the medications under review; but, none of these organizations disclose those conflicts in the guidelines. To learn more about the study, click here (https://www.cmaj.ca/content/192/23/E617).
DEPRESSD study in Psychiatry News
This week, Psychiatric News from the American Psychiatric Association published an article (https://psychnews.psychiatryonline.org/doi/10.1176/appi.pn.2020.5b6) on a recent study conducted by Dr. Brooke Levis and the rest of the DEPRESSD team. The team combined data from >9000 participants from 44 studies to compare prevalence of depression based on the PHQ-9 screening tool to prevalence based on a validated diagnostic interview for major depression, the SCID. Prevalence based on the PHQ-9 (at the standard cutoff of ≥ 10) was double (12% greater than) prevalence based on the SCID, and no alternative PHQ-9 cutoff matched SCID prevalence consistently. These findings demonstrate that screening tools such as the PHQ-9 should not be used to make diagnostic classifications or to estimate prevalence. To learn more about the study, please click on the link above.
Team publishes the SPIN-CHAT trial protocol
We are thrilled to announce that our SPIN-CHAT trial protocol, "Protocol for a Partially Nested Randomized Controlled Trial to Evaluate the Effectiveness of the Scleroderma Patient-centered Intervention Network COVID-19 Home-isolation Activities Together (SPIN-CHAT) Program to Reduce Anxiety among At-Risk Scleroderma Patients" has now been published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research! The protocol describes a randomized controlled trial to assess the effectiveness of the SPIN-CHAT Program in improving mental health outcomes among individuals with scleroderma during the COVID-19 outbreak. The SPIN-CHAT Program is a 4-week (3 sessions per week) videoconference-based intervention that includes activity engagement, education on strategies to support mental health, and mutual support among scleroderma patients. Read more about the study here.
Dr. Thombs awarded the FRQS Distinguished Research Scholar Award
Congratulations to Dr. Thombs, who was awarded a Fonds de recherche Santé – Québec Distinguished Research Scholar Award (2020-2024) for his work with SPIN, DEPRESSED and in meta-research and policy.
11 presentations by team members accepted to the 2020 Cochrane Colloquium!
Congratulations to current and former team members Zelalem, Dipika, Brooke, Marleine, Yin, and Kim, who had 5 oral presentations and 6 poster presentations accepted for the 27th Cochrane Colloquium! Presentations related to the DEPRESSD Project include: individual participant data meta-analyses of PHQ-2, PHQ-9, EPDS, and HADS accuracy; selective cutoff reporting in depression screening accuracy studies; imperfect reference standards for major depression classification; and a knowledge translation tool for clinician understanding of diagnostic accuracy estimates. Presentations related to meta-research and policy include: reporting of conflicts of interest in Cochrane and non-Cochrane meta-analyses of drug trials, and factors associated with contribution of data to individual participant data meta-analyses of intervention effectiveness.
Danielle Rice successfully defends her doctoral thesis
Congratulations to Danielle Rice, who yesterday successfully defended her doctoral thesis, “Engaging individuals with lived experiences: identifying the needs and priorities of informal caregivers for people living with systemic sclerosis.” Danielle has led SPIN’s work with caregivers marvellously over the last couple of years. Her list of accomplishments in this area and others is long! Danielle has already published 64 peer-reviewed articles (18 as first author), including a recent publication on criteria for academic promotion, which has been accepted for publication in BMJ. To support her doctoral training, Danielle was awarded a prestigious Vanier Graduate Scholarship from CIHR, a CIHR Health Systems Impact Fellowship, a CIHR Doctoral Training Award (declined), and a Fonds de Recherche en Santé du Québec doctoral training award (declined). Danielle will be doing her clinical psychology internship at St. Joseph’s Healthcare in Hamilton, Ontario over the next year, at which point, she will be Dr. Danielle Rice. Way to go, Danielle!
Living systematic review funded by CIHR
This week, members of the team received $50,000 from the CIHR to supplement MI4 funding for a living systematic review on mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. This grant supports more effective dissemination and work in processing a high volume of Chinese-language evidence. Thank you to the CIHR! Congratulations to team members Olivia Bonardi, Danielle Rice, Jill Boruff, Marleine Azar, Chen He, Dr. Sarah Markham, Sheryl Sun, Dr. Yin Wu, Ankur Krishnan, Ian Thombs-Vite, and Drs. Benedetti and Thombs.
Team study featured in Cochrane Collaboration News
Kimberly Turner’s master’s thesis (recently published in BMJ Open) was featured in Cochrane Collaboration News. The study concluded that the percentage of recent Cochrane meta-analyses on the effects of drug interventions that transparently reported funding sources and trial author–industry financial ties and employment for included trials far exceeds reporting in other journals. Congratulations to Kimberly, and to other and former team members, Andrea Carboni-Jiménez, Carla Benea, Katie Elder, and Brooke Levis. Read more here.
Congratulations on team's new publication in BMJ Open
We are excited to share that our paper entitled “Reporting of Drug Trial Funding Sources and Author Financial Conflicts of Interest in Cochrane and non-Cochrane Meta-analyses: A Cross-sectional Study” has been published in BMJ Open. This work provides a much-needed update on the state of reporting of financial conflicts of interest from trials included in systematic reviews and meta-analyses by examining whether reporting has improved since the implementation of a reporting policy by Cochrane in 2012 and examining the differences in reporting between contemporary Cochrane and non-Cochrane meta-analyses. Read more about the study here.
SPIN and DEPRESSD teams' oral symposia presented at the Interdisciplinary Conference in Psychology (ICP) 2020
On May 9th, SPIN and DEPRESSD Teams' oral symposia were presented at the ICP online due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. The symposia were pre-recorded and uploaded onto ICP's online platform, which was made available to registered conference attendees during the virtual conference. Below are the hyperlinks to recordings of both symposia:
SPIN - Patient-centered Interdisciplinary Research in a Rare Disease Context (https://www.dropbox.com/s/1w7n0zs4442ugui/SPIN-V3.mp4?dl=0)
DEPRESSD - Addressing Challenges in Evaluating Depression Screening Tool Accuracy (https://www.dropbox.com/sh/bz387u883cfjte3/AABWzZPR0ti9jzloDtjBNogSa?dl=0)
Congratulations on team's publication in the Journal of Clinical Epidemiology
We are happy to share that our paper entitled “Trial Corresponding Author Country, Year, and Journal Impact Factor Associated with Data Contribution to IPDMAs” has been published in its final version in the Journal of Clinical Epidemiology. In this study, we reviewed individual patient data meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials to determine the proportion of data contribution amongst eligible trials and factors associated with data contribution. We found that 67% of trials contributed data, and that more recently published trials and trials published in journals with a higher impact factor were associated with data contribution. Trials from the United Kingdom were more likely to contribute data that those from the United States. Congratulations to Marleine Azar, Andrea Benedetti, Kira E Riehm, Mahrukh Imran, Ankur Krishnan, Matthew Chiovitti, Tatiana Sanchez, Ian Shrier and Brett Thombs for their work. The article is available here: https://authors.elsevier.com/a/1b1DH3BcJQ0WiA.
SPIN team publishes the SPIN-SELF feasibility trial protocol
We are thrilled to announce that a SPIN trial protocol, led by Marie-Eve Carrier, was recently published in JMIR Research Protocols. This published protocol describes methods that we used in a recent SPIN-SELF (Self-Management) feasibility trial (July to November 2019) to assess the feasibility of conducting a full-scale randomized control trial (RCT) of the SPIN-SELF (Self-Management) program, by evaluating the trial implementation processes, required resources and management, scientific aspects, participant acceptability and usage of the SPIN-SELF program. Results of the feasibility study are expected to be published in 2020, which will guide adjustments needed before undertaking a planned full-scale RCT of the SPIN-SELF program. Read more about the study here.
Team funded for living systematic review on mental health in COVID-19
This week, members of the team received $65,000 from the McGill Interdisciplinary Initiative in Infection and Immunity (MI4)'s Emergency COVID-19 Research Funding Program to conduct a living systematic review on mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. The objectives of this living systematic review are to evaluate (1) changes in mental health symptoms; (2) factors associated with levels or changes in symptoms during COVID-19; and (3) the effect of interventions on mental health symptoms during COVID-19. A huge thank-you to the MI4 initiative who generously supports this important research project during these trying times. Congratulations for team members Olivia Bonardi, Danielle Rice, Jill Boruff, Marleine Azar, Chen He, Dr. Sarah Markham, Sheryl Sun, Dr. Yin Wu, Ankur Krishnan, Ian Thombs-Vite, and Drs. Benedetti and Thombs.
SPIN team funded for SPIN-COVID-19 Cohort Study and embedded SPIN-CHAT Trial
Recently, the SPIN team applied to the MI4 Emergency COVID-19 Research Funding and was granted $100,000 for its proposal titled “Mental health in an at-risk population during COVID-19: longitudinal study of risk factors and outcomes and embedded trial of an activity, education, and support intervention”. In addition to this, the team also received funding from Scleroderma Canada (made possible by an educational grant for patient support programming from Boehringer Ingelheim), the Scleroderma Society of Ontario, Scleroderma Manitoba, Scleroderma Atlantic, Scleroderma Australia, Scleroderma New South Wales, Scleroderma Victoria, Scleroderma Queensland, the Scleroderma Association of BC, the Scleroderma Association of Saskatchewan, and Scleroderma Quebec. SPIN will use these funds for a cohort study that examines mental health during COVID-19, comparing to pre-COVID-19 outcomes, and to conduct a randomized controlled trial to evaluate the effectiveness of the SPIN COVID-19 Home-isolation Activities Together (SPIN-CHAT) Program to reduce anxiety among at-risk scleroderma patients. Thank you, MI4 and all the patient organizations, for your tremendous support!
Congratulations to Maria Gagarine and Andrea Carboni-Jimenez on receiving funding for summer internships from MITACS and Scleroderma Society of Ontario
This week, we learned that SPIN’s MSc students, Maria Gagarine and Andrea, both received funding from MITACS and partner funding from the Scleroderma Society of Ontario, for their summer internships with SPIN. Congratulations, Maria and Andrea!
SPIN and DEPRESSD symposiums accepted to the Interdisciplinary Conference of Psychology
We are glad to share that SPIN’s symposium “Patient-centered Interdisciplinary Research in a Rare Disease Context: The Scleroderma Patient-centered Intervention Network (SPIN)” (chair: Danielle Rice, co-presenters: Sami Harb, Andrea Carboni-Jimenez, Lydia Tao) and DEPRESSD’s symposium, “Addressing challenges in evaluating depression screening tool accuracy via individual participant data meta-analysis” (chair: Yin Wu, co-presenters: Zelalem Negeri, Dipika Neupane, Parash Bhandari, Eliana Brehaut), are both accepted to the 9th Interdisciplinary Conference of Psychology, which will be presented online during May 7-9 due to the current COVID-19 outbreak.