The primary focus of the MHAPS group is in the utilization of data to improve the quality of our health system for persons with mental health and substance use conditions Much of this work involves the application of quantitative methodologies such psychometrics, modeling and machine learning, and spatial analytics. We also use co-design as well as qualitative and mixed methods approaches. Our research group focuses on three broad themes: 

1) The design and application of health assessment systems to support clinical and policy decision making, evaluation, and research. This work is in collaboration with interRAI, an international collaborative of researchers, clinicians, and policy makers. interRAI instruments have been widely implemented across many jurisdictions in Canada and internationally to support child/youth, adult mental health, and continuing care settings. Dr. Perlman and other collaborators within the MHAPs group have contributed to the development and use of these instruments within the mental health and addictions space for children, youth, and adults. This includes the development of care planning protocols for psychiatric readmission and substance use, validated scales for measuring severity of behaviours, cognitive performance, and social withdrawal, and the designed outcome oriented mental health quality indicators for inpatient psychiatry. Several current initiatives within this theme include: 

  • Leadership on the design and utilization of these instruments for settings providing care for persons who use drugs and alcohol.
  • Collaboration with Dr. Shannon Stewart at Western University on the design of outcome-based quality indicators for child and youth mental health settings.  
  • Collaboration with Dr. John Hirdes from the University of Waterloo on the “Pan-African Utilization of Lay Assessment Systems” that involves the implementation and utilization of interRAI instruments within global health contexts, including the use of the interRAI Check Up with community health workers across 8 countries in Africa.  
  • The optimization of interRAI data to empower shared-decision making: The “Ensuring Uptake of Research Evidence and Knowledge by All (EUREKA)”. With Dr. Lynn Martin at Lakehead University, and supported by the Ontario Hospital Association and Canadian Institutes for Health Research, this research involves collaborations psychiatric practitioners, care recipients, and applied researchers who have all indicated that we need better systems to use data in shared-decision making for mental health and additions. 
  • Collaboration and consultation with health service organizations and partners using interRAI instruments to help improve the use of these instruments in practice. 

2) The second area focuses the use of health system to data to better understand the needs of persons who use drugs and to evaluate drug policies. Ongoing and emerging themes include: 

  • Evaluation of the impact of non-medical cannabis legalization, particularly mental health outcomes and impacts on health service use. 
  • Factors associated with the locations of drug overdose. 
  • Access to substance use services for persons with mental health conditions.  
  • Patterns and experiences of persons who use psychedelic drugs.  

3) The third area of my research focuses the integration of health systems, population health, and socio-environmental data to support the prevention and early intervention of mental health conditions. In Canada there is a plethora of data available at individual, community, and environmental contexts that may shed new insights into the risk factors and warning signs of major mental illness, substance use and addiction. Within this research we evaluate individual, organizational, and socio-environmental factors related to health outcomes and health system quality. Several ongoing and emerging initiatives within this theme include: