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Background

Mental health, substance use and violence problems are important public health concerns that commonly co-occur. These problems result from the complex interplay of biological and social factors. As of yet, however, the linkages among these factors are poorly understood.

RHOC addresses the complexity of co-occurring mental health, substance use and violence problems by integrating the following three strategies:

  • integrating diverse knowledge with a multidisciplinary team of experts from the biological, social and behavioural sciences
  • examining a diverse range of factors (e.g., stress; biological vulnerabilities) associated with mental health, substance use and violence problems
  • collaborating with community stakeholders in the research process

Our vision is that these three strategies will provide the pillars for generating a more complete picture of the interplays among the biological, social and behavioural dimensions of mental health, substance use, and violence.

 

Objectives of RHOC

The objectives of the RHOC project are to:

  • better understand factors associated with mental health, substance use and violence problems
  • evaluate the extent of unmet needs related to mental health, substance use and violence problems in Ontario communities
  • use research knowledge to inform strategies for the prevention and treatment of mental health, substance use and violence problems and to improve the capacity of community services to respond to unmet needs
  • work closely with local community partners in the development, implementation and application of research
  • provide local data that can be used by communities to improve local services

 

Research Plan

The RHOC team:

  • uses the CAMH mobile research lab to collect data
  • coordinates a number of pilot studies and full-scale studies that collect a common set of variables
  • develops a community indicator database
  • work closely with community partners in diverse Ontario communities

 

Bringing Research to Local Communities with the CAMH Mobile Research Lab

Studies conducted as part of RHOC use a state-of-the-art mobile research lab to collect data in Ontario communities. Funded by the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, the mobile lab is a 34-foot trailer outfitted with interview rooms, computers and equipment for extracting and storing biological materials. The mobile lab provides researchers with unique opportunities to:

  • collect data in a standardized way across Ontario communities
  • bring research to diverse communities, including rural, remote, urban and Aboriginal communities as well as areas experiencing poverty and social disorganization

 

Pilot Studies Leading to Full-Scale Studies

The RHOC team is building multidisciplinary collaborations by coordinating a series of pilot studies. In these pilot studies, researchers:

  • investigate high-priority topics relating to mental health, substance use and violence problems
  • design and evaluate new data collection methods and survey instruments
  • collect data on a common set of key variables, including:
    • mood and anxiety disorders
    • alcohol, tobacco, marijuana use and problems
    • partner and non-partner violence
    • burden of mental health, substance use and violence problems
    • biological vulnerabilities to mental health, substance use and violence problems
  • build the necessary knowledge and methodological base for designing full-scale studies that can be submitted for future research funding. Funding for these full-scale studies will ensure long-term sustainability of the RHOC collaborative project

 

Community Involvement

The RHOC team partners with community stakeholders who provide input throughout the research process to ensure that:

  • the researchers fully understand community needs and concerns
  • the research incorporates community needs in research and knowledge dissemination
  • research-based knowledge is applied to community efforts aimed at preventing and treating mental health, substance use and violence problems

Once data from a community have been collected and analyzed, a public forum is held in the community to share the study findings and discuss ways to improve local services.