Canadian researchers working to improve military and Veteran health met at St. Joseph’s Health Care London’s (St. Joseph’s) Parkwood Institute on December 4, 2017 for their fifth Research Consortium meeting.
The Research Consortium group, established in 2015, is led by Lawson researcher Dr. Don Richardson, Physician Clinical Lead at St. Joseph’s Operational Stress Injury Clinic (OSI Clinic). The group meets two to three times a year to provide updates on their projects and foster collaborative research partnerships, rotating between London, Hamilton and Toronto as host sites.
“Members of the military and Veterans have unique symptoms and treatment needs so it’s important that we engage in knowledge transfer with other researchers working with the same group of patients,” says Dr. Richardson. “The Research Consortium meetings are a great way to learn about recent projects from our peers and identify new avenues for collaboration with the goal of providing the best possible treatment outcomes for our patients.”
In addition to researchers from St. Joseph’s OSI Clinic, the Research Consortium group includes representatives from Defence Research and Development Canada, the Canadian Institute for Military & Veteran Health Research, the Canadian Armed Forces, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Homewood Research Institute, Western University, University of Manitoba, McMaster University, University of Toronto, Ryerson University and Queens University.
St. Joseph’s OSI Clinic provides specialized mental health services to Veterans, members of the Canadian Armed Forces, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and their families who are experiencing mental health challenges as a result of service. The OSI Clinic is one of ten outpatient clinics in a national network across the country funded by Veterans Affairs Canada.
At the meeting, Dr. Richardson provided an update on recent projects at St. Joseph’s OSI Clinic, including research to enhance the understanding of moral injury.
Moral injury refers to lasting emotional distress that can occur when military men and women are exposed to events that disturb or undermine moral beliefs about how people can be expected to behave. OSI clinicians reported that exposure to these events drastically changes their patients’ views of the world; causes them to question their religion, spirituality or human nature; and often leaves them feeling disconnected from their loved ones. The researchers will now collect additional data from clinicians across the OSI national network and from the Research Consortium group. Part of their investigation will explore the relationship between different kinds of traumatic events and moral injuries, and mental well-being.