Health and Wellbeing in Developmental Disabilities

2024 Posters

  • Community-Based Mobile Cervical Cancer Screening Initiative in Western York Region for Persons with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and Other Disabilities

    Presented by: Ziv Har-Gil (Project Manager, Reena); Lauren Ridge (OHT Impact Fellow, Western York Region OHT/University of Toronto)

    Additional authors: Claudia Schauer (System Planner, Western York Region OHT); Stefanie Richards (OHT Manager, Western York Region OHT); Kennie Sinn (Women’s Health Program Director, Carefirst Seniors & Community Services Association); Tamara Belfer (Executive Director, Carefirst Family Health Team); Natalie Timbrell (Regional Director, March of Dimes Canada); Loredana Di Santo (Primary Care Lead, Mackenzie Health); Meredith Deutsch-Levy (Primary Care Physician, Primary Care Physician)

    There are many barriers that exist which prevent persons with intellectual and development disabilities from cancer screening. Researchers have identified several factors that decrease cervical cancer screening participation including a lack of knowledge about cancer screening, previous negative interactions with healthcare professionals, and mobility difficulties. These barriers demonstrate the need for specialized care in order to effectively meet the complex needs of persons with IDD. Members of Western York Region Ontario Health Team partnered to implement a targeted program for persons with IDD to increase the accessibility to preventative care services.

  • Community Collaboration to Improve Medical Visits with Adults with IDD in Burnaby

    Presented by: Azra Bhanji (Project Manager, Burnaby Division of Family Practice)

    Additional authors: Amy Hung (Family Physician Lead, Burnaby Division of Family Practice); Huyanne Le (PCN Community Engagement Coordinator, Burnaby Division of Family Practice); Natasha Cholowsky (Shared Care Project Coordinator, Burnaby Division of Family Practice)

    To understand care experiences among individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, we were funded by Shared Care to conduct a needs assessment in Burnaby with 18 self-advocates, family members/caregivers, and 54 healthcare providers. We identified gaps in patient-provider communication, coordination of care and awareness of local resources. To address this, we collaborated with local stakeholders and adapted the Surrey Place Developmental Disabilities Primary Care Program “About My Health” and “My Health Care Visit” forms. Furthermore, we held community and physician-specific engagement events to promote these tools, initiate dialogue on optimizing care for individuals with IDD, and provide support with resource navigation.

  • Creating Your Village – Untold Story, Creating a Voice and Better Mental Health for Racialized Caregivers and Those They Support

    Presented by: Marcia Cole (Program Coordinator, Sawubona ACS); Sherron Grant (Executive Director, Sawubona ACS)

    Untold stories – Creating spaces of belonging, increasing mental health and access to available resources for caregivers through culturally sensitive groups. Social Isolation, poor health and extreme stress is what is faced by many underserved caregivers in the field of developmental services. This poster explores the value of cultural specific caregiver support groups and its positive outcomes for families and people supported.

  • Development of a Postpartum Mental Health Toolkit for Birthing Parents with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

    Presented by: Sidrah Zafar (Research Coordinator, Department of Health & Society, University of Toronto)

    Additional authors: Marjorie Aunos (Psychologist and Adjunct Faculty Member, Department of Applied Disability Studies, Brock University); Hilary Brown (Associate Professor, Department of Health & Society, University of Toronto)

    There is increasing recognition that the postpartum period is a time of particular vulnerability to depression and anxiety for birthing parents with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). However, accessible resources are limited, and service-providers report a lack of knowledge and confidence in providing postpartum mental health care to people with IDD. We conducted semi-structured interviews with birthing people with IDD and service-providers about priorities for the content and format of a postpartum mental health toolkit. The results led to the development of a toolkit containing an accessible resource for parents with IDD and a resource for service-providers.

  • Environmental Scan of Calgary Community-Based Services for Autism and Co-occurring Mental Health Conditions

    Presented by: Stephanie Andreasen (MSc Student, University of Calgary)

    Additional authors: Kailyn Turner (Post-doctoral Scholar, University of Calgary); Brianne Redquest (Post-doctoral Scholar, University of Calgary); Jennifer Kuntz (Project Facilitator, Alberta Health Services); Carly McMorris (Associate Professor, University of Calgary)

    There is little research on mental health services for autistic children and youth in Canada. This study sought to identify such supports available in Calgary. Using an environmental scan methodology, we conducted a systematic and rigorous search of online resource listings and services. A survey was sent to listings that indicated they provided supports to autistic youth to gather additional information. Participants were also invited for an interview to discuss supports offered, as well as barriers to accessing supports. Findings from this study contribute to efforts to ensure that autistic youth can access mental health supports when they need them.

  • Evaluating Medical Students’ Satisfaction with a Virtual Educational Intervention Focused on Patients with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

    Presented by: Amrita Bagga (Medical Student, University of Toronto)

    Additional authors: Shannon Weissman (Family Medicine Resident, University of Toronto); Ivona Berger (Family Medicine Resident, University of Toronto); Hira Raheel (Internal Medicine Resident, Western University); Roxanne Wright (Experiential Learning Lead, University of Toronto); Alvin Loh (Developmental Paediatrician, Surrey Place); Janet Vogt (Manager and Senior Research Associate, Surrey Place); Barry Isaacs (PhD Director, Surrey Place); Carolyn Lee-Jones (Education Coordinator, Surrey Place); Fok-Han Leung (Family Physician, University of Toronto)

    Individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities (IDD) face significant health disparities. Physicians’ limited experience and knowledge in IDD is a contributor, highlighting the need to train medical students in this area. At the University of Toronto, first-year medical students participated in virtual meetings with patients with IDD. Post-intervention survey results indicated an increase in self-reported student confidence (Berger et al., 2023). This poster reports on interviews conducted with eleven students, exploring perspectives regarding the curriculum. Preliminary themes identified include: Curriculum Development/Evaluation, Experiential Learning, Professional Development, and Barriers/Stigma. This research provides insight on interventions to improve care for patients with IDD.

  • Interactive E-book to Teach Medical Students About Ableism

    Presented by: Abigale MacLellan (Medical Student, Dalhousie University Medicine); Marihan Farid (Medical Student, Dalhousie Faculty of Medicine)

    Additional authors: Zachary Ford (Medical Student, Dalhousie Faculty of Medicine); Karen McNeil (Family Physician, Dalhousie Faculty of Medicine)

    We wanted to teach medical students about ableism in medicine in an interactive way. We researched, wrote and published a 20 page interactive E-book reviewed by disability advocates from across the country that helps students understand biases they might hold about disability and break them down. Chapters include teaching medical students about the horrible history of the treatment of disabled people by the Canadian healthcare system, models and language used to describe disability and current day healthcare considerations exploring more thoughtful ways to show up to conversations surrounding quality of life, consent, and screening when caring for patients.

  • Investigating the Relationship Between Self-Confidence and Burnout for Professionals Supporting Adults with Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities Engaging in Challenging Behaviour

    Presented by: Kayla Cormier (Student, Brock University)

    Additional authors: Laura Mullins (Assistant Professor, Brock University)

    Direct support professionals (DSP) who support adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities who engage in challenging behaviour (CB) are at risk for burnout, but it is unclear whether self-confidence plays a role in the development of burnout. This study quantifies the relationship between self-confidence and burnout for various DSP and explores professionals’ perceptions of the role of self-confidence in supporting adults who engage in CB. DSP around Ontario in various roles (e.g., disability support professional, instructor-therapist, behaviour technician) completed a survey that assesses burnout, self-confidence, and other related topics. Results may increase our understanding of person-related variables associated with burnout.

  • Pay Attention to Hypertension (PAtH): Findings of a Cardiovascular Health Promotion Intervention for Adults with Intellectual Disabilities Participating in Special Olympics Quebec

    Presented by: Rosa Elena Ponce-Alcalá (Research assistant, McGill University)

    Additional authors: Lia Sanzone (Associate Professor Program Director, Bachelor of Science (Nursing), McGill University); Anaële Cuerrier (Student, Research Assistant, McGill University); Tristan Delmas (Healthy community Director, Special Olympics Quebec); Katerine Roberge (MDCM, Clinique Medicale Jolibourg/ Special Olympics Quebec); Andraea Van Hulst (Assistant Professor, McGill University)

    In partnership with Special Olympics Quebec, we developed and implemented Pay Attention to Hypertension, a nurse-led cardiovascular health promotion intervention delivered online. Participants and nurses met individually every month during 6 sessions focused on discussing topics such as monitoring and managing blood pressure (BP), adopting healthy lifestyles, and managing stress. The intervention did not result in any changes in blood pressure, and limited improvements were found in lifestyle intervention. We did find important improvements in health-related empowerment, most notably in knowledge and understanding of cardiovascular health.

  • The MEND (Meaningfully Empowering the NeuroDiverse) Initiative: Helping Autistic Adults in the Greater Toronto Area Express their Mental Health Needs

    Presented by: Mouzhan Varshoueitabrizi (MHSc Student; University of Toronto); Abitha Suthakaran (MHSc Student, University of Toronto); Alena Moya (MHSc Student, University of Toronto); Kaitlin Boddison (MHSc Student, University of Toronto)

    Autistic adults experience a higher rate of mental health challenges than the general population, including higher incidences of depression, anxiety, and suicide. This project aims to address the need to empower autistic adults on the mild to moderate end of the spectrum to express their mental health needs to mental health professionals. Guided by the Toronto Translational Framework (TTF), our approach involves co-designing and testing an intervention directly with the autistic population through an advisory committee and focus groups. By improving empowerment in this area, we hope to increase their self-awareness and confidence in navigating and receiving mental health support.