Research

  • The Queer Feels Study

    Sexual and gender minority (SGM) individuals are at increased vulnerability to mental health difficulties compared to their heterosexual and cisgender counterparts. Minority stress theory has spawned a large body of research indicating that experiences of stigma and discrimination can account for such mental health discrepancies. Recent research suggests that emotion regulation may be a mechanism through which stigma compromises well-being, however research has yet to examine individual factors related to emotion regulation that may increase vulnerability or bolster resilience to negative well-being following stigma-related events. The proposed study applies the psychological mediation framework (Hatzenbuehler, 2009) to examine pathways from stigma-related events to negative affect and psychological distress. The mediating roles of emotion regulation, resilient coping, self-compassion, social support and internalized stigma will be examined. Moreover, general developmental moderators of the stigma- distress relationship including childhood violence history, and attachment style, will be examined, as well as LGBT-specific moderators of the stigma- distress relationship including discrimination history and LGBT connectedness. LGBTQ2S individuals over the age of 18 (n=125) will be recruited for an online, cross-sectional baseline survey of demographics, emotion regulation ability, childhood violence history, attachment style, social support, self-compassion, resilient coping, LGBT connectedness and experiences of minority stress. Participants will then report on their daily experiences of stressful events, stigma-related events, affect, emotion regulation and emotion-focused coping for 10 days via using a smartphone app. Hierarchical linear modeling will be used to determine the relationship between stigma and affect within participants (Level 1) and across participants (Level 2), and the role of hypothesized mediators will be examined in Level 2 of the model. The proposed study aims to inform LGBTQ2S-specific psychotherapy interventions that focus on emotion regulation, self-compassion and enhancing resilience aimed at alleviating minority stress in LGBTQ2S individuals.

  • An Examination of Resilience Against HIV/AIDS Among Middle-aged and Older Men Who Have Sex With Men: Resources, Strengths, and Protective Factors

    Background and Rationale: There is considerable resilience among middle-aged and older, cis and trans, gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM) against HIV/AIDS. Despite being part of a population at increased risk for acquiring HIV, many MSM aged 40 years and older (40+) have remained HIV-negative (HIV-) since the start of the epidemic. Among HIV-positive (HIV+) MSM aged 40 years and older, many have exhibited resilience against HIV/AIDS not only by surviving its adverse impacts, but also by living active and full lives; fiercely advocating for their rights, and health care and service needs; and staunchly supporting and promoting prevention and intervention programs dedicated to ending HIV/AIDS. Since the beginning of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the early 1980s, MSM have remained the population most affected by HIV/AIDS in Canada. Although the proportion of HIV cases among MSM 30 to 39 years old has been decreasing since 1994, the proportion of new HIV infections among 40+ MSM has been increasing since the beginning of the epidemic. The Public Health Agency of Canada reports that most research available on HIV/AIDS among MSM focuses on their vulnerability and that research on resilience of MSM against HIV/AIDS is wanting. It also reports that although there are studies on young MSM and resilience, there is a lack of research undertaken with older MSM. This suggests that resilience of older MSM against HIV/AIDS represents a serious research gap. Scientific literature and historical accounts provide evidence of resilience among MSM, and some research shows the challenges and coping strategies of HIV+ older MSM. However, to date, there has been no research conducted to examine the resilience of both HIV+ and HIV- 40+ cis and trans MSM against HIV/AIDS. Aim: The aim of our project is to examine the resources, strengths, and protective factors HIV+/- 40+ MSM possess that prevent HIV acquisition and transmission in the community and allow them to thrive in a society that may not be ready to meet the growing needs of a burgeoning number of older MSM and HIV long-term survivors in the decades to come. Project Design: Staying true to the tenets of Community-Based Research (CBR), we plan to recruit and include in our project several HIV+ and HIV- 40+ MSM as members of our Community Advisory Board and as peer researchers (PRs) so that they can provide input and feedback on all aspects and during all stages of the research process as full partners. We will provide training for our PRs so that they can interview thirty HIV+ and thirty HIV- 40+ cis/trans MSM from across Ontario to explore their resilience against HIV/AIDS. Our PRs will use an interview guide – informed, developed, and created with the input of our relevant stakeholders – to conduct confidential, semi-structured, digitally audio-recorded interviews with study participants. We will be employing a constructivist grounded theory approach to our research project, including multiple perspectives and interpretations into the iterative process of generating information and theory from the critical thematic analysis of interview data at different phases of the project.

  • Street Youth and Social Schemas

    The purpose of this study is to explore areas of street youth's lives of which very little is known. For example, little is known about their family lives, their school experiences, their experiences with the police, their lives on the street, and how these experiences impact the attitudes they develop, and the way they understand the world. We hope to understand how all of these factors might influence how often they use drugs and alcohol, and to what extent they are involved in behaviour that contravenes the law.

  • Toward a Practice Framework for Sexual and Gender Minority Forced Migrants Acculturating into Canadian Society

    Through individual interviews, this study aims to achieve two objectives. The first objective of this study is to illuminate how LGBTQ-affirmative mental health care providers and refugee mental health providers describe their readiness to support LGBTQ forced migrants in Canada. The second objective is to learn what therapeutic approaches best support LGBTQ forced migrants’ mental health and wellbeing. The specific aims of the study are to a) identify gaps in knowledge, attitudes, and skills in serving LGBTQ refugees/forced migrants; b) uncover emerging best practices for serving LGBTQ refugees/forced migrants that can be shared with a diverse array of mental health practitioners; and c) understand from LGBTQ refugees/forced migrants who have received treatment from mental health providers what factors facilitated and/or hindered their mental health and wellbeing. These objectives and aims will be achieved through triangulating the insights, expertise, and experiences with four subsample groups: 1) LGBTQ-affirmative mental health providers with no experience serving refugees; 2) refugee mental health providers with no experience serving LGBTQ individuals; 3) mental health providers who have experience serving LGBTQ refugees/forced migrants; and 4) LGBTQ forced migrants themselves who have received treatment from mental health providers. Samples will be recruited across Canada.

  • Canadian Trans Youth Health Survey 2018

    Many studies address lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) health outcomes, however it is common for these studies to overlook the "T,” or transgender, portion of this population. In light of this, the Stigma and Resilience Among Vulnerable Youth Centre (SARAVYC) conducted the first-ever Canadian Trans Youth Health Survey in 2013/14 – a national, online survey focused on the health of trans and non-binary youth in Canada. Findings suggested that transgender and non-binary youth are particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment, violence, mental health issues, and other health challenges. The objective of this study is to develop an understanding of trans and non-binary youth’s physical and emotional health, as well as risks to their health and well-being. This study will help us understand how (and if) various health outcomes for trans youth differ from their heteronormative, gender-normative, and gay, lesbian and bisexual peers’ health outcomes. Results will also help show how the home, community, and school environments can contribute to health issues or wellness for trans and non-binary youth. Data from this survey will also be used to measure changes (if any) over the past 5 years since the first survey was conducted. The results will provide information that will help to improve health services, health policies and raise awareness of the health needs of trans and non-binary youth.

  • Development and Validation of Sexual Quality of Life Questionnaire for Men-Who-Have-Sex-with-Men with Prostate Cancer

    The purpose of this study is to develop a sexual function survey specific for men who have sex with men (MSM) and others with prostates, and who have also been diagnosed with prostate cancer. This survey will be used to further research on MSM and other people with prostates who have prostate cancer, and help such men make treatment decisions. Our goal is to reach 200 participants for this phase before we analyze results for producing a more refined assessment tool for the final phase of our study.

  • PEERS: Peers Examining Experiences in Research Study

    There is a movement towards increased community engagement and participation in research. Both funders of research and communities recommend meaningful engagement of communities under study throughout the research process. One mechanism of engagement is the inclusion of peer researchers. Peer researchers are researchers whose lived experience with a subject being studied is a requirement of their employment with a research project. Peer researchers may enhance the research through their lived experience. The engagement of peer researchers is also intended to benefit both the peers and the communities to which they belong. However, despite being widely recommended, there has been very little research on the process, context, and outcomes of peer researcher engagement. Peers Examining Experiences in Research Study (PEERS) is a qualitative, community-based project that aims to address this question. PEERS is a team of academic, community-based, and peer researchers who are examining how peer researchers experience their involvement in research with four communities: • lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer and two-spirit (LGBTQ2S+) communities • racialized communities • communities of people who use drugs • consumer/survivor/mad/mental health service user communities The objectives of this research are to: a) examine how peer researchers experience involvement in the context of participatory research. b) determine how peer researchers experience benefit and/or harms from their involvement in participatory research. c) Identify similarities and differences in experiences of inclusion, benefit, and harm between four communities whose members are commonly engaged as peer researchers: LGBTQ2S+ communities; racialized communities; communities of people who use drugs; and consumer/survivor/mad/mental health service user communities. d) identify and disseminate research practices that attend to important differences between communities to best achieve the emancipatory aims of participatory methods. We will use our findings to make recommendations for participatory research in general, as well as research with these four communities specifically, to maximize the meaningful involvement of peer researchers.

  • Engage: Advancing Gay and Bisexual Men’s Sexual Health

    Engage is a 5-year Canadian collaboration between researchers and community-based organizations on HIV and sexual health among gay, bisexual, and queer men, including trans men and other men who have sex with men (gbMSM) in Canada. Its three primary aims are to provide research evidence to inform HIV and STBBI prevention initiatives for Canadian gbMSM, build capacity for a pan-Canadian network on HIV and sexual health research for gbMSM, and integrate community engagement into all stages of the project to enhance community-researcher collaboration and bidirectional knowledge exchange.