Current Projects

The following studies are currently in progress by our research group.

1. Research Consortium on Intrusive Fear (RCIF)

Over the past several years I have co-chaired an international research group involving 17 psychologists from 13 countries worldwide who have been investigating the cross-cultural effects of unwanted intrusive thoughts in countries representing six continents.  Findings from a recent pilot study involving 777 interviews conducted in 13 countries are currently in press in a special issue of the Journal of Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders.  This year we are meeting in Hong Kong and Valencia, Spain in the order to plan for the next phase of this research program. Funding provided by Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).

2. Online assessment of intrusive thoughts

Kaylee Fillmore, honours student, recently completed data collection on 50 undergraduates who were administered the International Intrusive Thoughts Interview Schedule (IITIS) and a new online self-report measure of unwanted intrusive thoughts.  Still in the data analysis phase, the goal of this pilot project is to determine if a valid online version of intrusive thoughts can be used rather than the time-consuming and cumbersome IITIS.

3. Cognitive biases in anxiety sensitivity and vulnerability to panic

Catherine Hilchey, doctoral student, is designing a dissertation research project that will investigate the relationship between anxiety sensitivity (AS), a cognitive vulnerability factor in anxiety disorders, and fundamental psychological processes that may explain how high AS leads to an increased risk for panic attacks.  The objective of this research is to elucidate the pathogenic nature of AS.

4. Breaking up is hard to do

This collaborative study with colleagues Lucia O’Sullivan and Rice Fuller was our first investigation of personal distress and growth associated with dating breakup.  Preliminary analysis of an online survey of 119 young adults who experienced a romantic relationship breakup within the past four months revealed that individuals who experienced frequent unwanted negative intrusive thoughts about their ex-partner experienced higher personal distress, whereas individuals who could constructively reappraise the ex-relationship experienced less distress.  We are in process of conducting a full analysis of the dataset and submitting the findings for publication.

5.  New Brunswick family physician telephone interview

The first point of contact for the majority of Canadians who seek treatment for anxiety or depression is their family physician.  As a result family physicians treat the majority of individuals with anxiety or depression primarily with medication.  Only a few individuals are referred on to mental health specialists like psychologists or psychiatrists.  Along with France Talbot, psychologist at the Université de Moncton, we are designing a telephone survey study of New Brunswick physician to assess their views, attitudes and opinions about primary care of adults with anxiety and depression in the province of New Brunswick.  After evaluation by the Research Ethics Board at both universities, we hope to begin data collection by late spring, 2014. Funding provided by MindCare Foundation.