I am a psychologist at BC Children’s Hospital with a broad clinical focus on improving social and emotional functioning in children with chronic illness. Psychological and social factors often interfere with children receiving the most effective health care. For example, anxiety around medical procedures or non-compliance with treatment plans can lead to incomplete or delayed care which can adversely affect a child’s health. Moreover, these issues create stress and waste time for families and health care providers.
Generally, my research has four overarching themes:
Improving social-emotional functioning in children with chronic illness.
Mitigating the impact and improving adjustment to serious illness for the child and family unit.
Measuring the efficacy of interventions that improve compliance with medical treatment.
Measuring the effectiveness of delivering psychological intervention via various modalities to increase the cost effectiveness and efficiency with which patients receive services.
Pre-Operative Identification of Patients with High Needle Fear/Phobia in a Pediatric Surgical Day Care Setting
In the BC Children’s Hospital Surgical Day Care Unit (BCCH SDCU), there is no standard system for identifying children with high needle fear/needle phobia before the day of surgery. The aims of this project are to: 1) describe the prevalence of high needle fear/phobia in BCCH SDCU patients, 2) examine the feasibility and effectiveness of a new screening tool for identifying children with high needle fear/phobia, and 3) examine the relationship between child needle fear/phobia and family satisfaction with care.
Cognitive Behavioral Group Treatment for Adolescents with Chronic and Recurrent Pain: Cognitive behavioral treatment (CBT) is an effective intervention for various types of pain. Patients with chronic and recurring pain at BC Children’s Hospital (BCCH) typically receive individual CBT to teach strategies to manage pain symptoms. This project will assess the efficacy of 4 week group CBT intervention (i.e., Pain 101), which was developed from a successful 8 session group intervention in Alberta. During Pain 101, patients and at least one of their parents will complete a battery of psychological measures. This data will be used to explore the effectiveness of the 4 session group program when compared to the 8 session program in Alberta.
Diabetes Intervention for Adolescents with Persistent High A1C
Despite effective treatments, some adolescents with type 1 diabetes persistently exhibit compromised diabetes control, putting them at risk for significant complications. Oftentimes, the reasons for poor diabetes management are psychosocial as opposed to medical. Based on a unpublished manualized protocol from Alberta Children’s Hospital we are implementing a group therapy intervention for eligible teens with consistently high A1C, which is indicative of poorly controlled diabetes. This study will assess the efficacy of the group intervention for adolescents with type 1 diabetes and compromised metabolic control, compared to a control group receiving standard care. Analysis will determine whether participants in the intervention show improved diabetes control, as measured by A1C levels. Additionally, adolescent and parental reports on psychological measures (e.g., quality-of-life, mental health, etc.) might suggest roles for known barriers to metabolic control.