The School of Public Health and Health Systems is a division of the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences
Canada Research Chair in Youth Mental Health
Director, Advancing Research in Children’s Health (ARCH) Lab
Assistant Professor (Adjunct), Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences, McMaster University
Office: LHN 1726
Phone: 519-888-4567, ext. 33664
As Director of the ARCH Lab in the School of Public Health and Health Systems at the University of Waterloo, my research focuses on advancing the understanding of youth multimorbidity—the co-occurrence of physical and mental disorders in children, youth, and young adults. My work takes a developmental approach to estimating the burden of youth multimorbidity and the extent to which prevalence is sample-dependent, as well as expounding the multilevel determinants of youth multimorbidity; biological (systemic inflammation) and psychosocial (family environment) mechanisms leading to the onset of youth multimorbidity; and, through data linkage activities, how youth with multimorbidity interface with the mental health care system. I aim to bridge the clinical-epidemiological divide by conducting both clinical and population-based studies to prevent youth multimorbidity, improve youth health, help families, and enhance care and reduce health system costs.
Methodologically, I'm interested in the measurement of mental health and quality of life in youth, particularly those with chronic health conditions. In addition to validating the factor structure of measures, I examine the extent to which measures of mental health and quality of life are equivalent across different groups. In other words, I empirically test whether the underlying construct of a measure is interpreted similarly across groups; hence, potential group differences can be interpreted as meaningful, and not an artifact of differential interpretation.
Graduate supervision and student opportunities
I am currently accepting applications from graduate students with related research interests:
- Epidemiology of child psychopathology
- Measurement of child psychopathology and quality of life
- Determinants and mechanisms of child multimorbidity
- Mental health service use
- Introductory and advanced epidemiology
- Observational research methods
BSc, Biochemistry (2004, McMaster University)
MSc, Community Health and Epidemiology (2006, University of Saskatchewan)
PhD, Epidemiology and Biostatistics (2011, Western University)
Postdoctoral Fellowship, Child Psychiatry (2014, McMaster University)
Awards and recognitions
Early Researcher Award, Ministry of Research, Innovation and Science
Early Career Award, Canadian Society for Epidemiology and Biostatistics
Research Early Career Award, Hamilton Health Sciences Foundation W. E. Noonan Fellowship, Hamilton Health Sciences
Brain Star Award, Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction, Canadian Institutes of Health Research
Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Government of Canada
See Google Scholar for full list of publications.
Ferro MA, Rhodes A, Kimber M, Duncan L, Boyle MH, Georgiades K, Gonzalez A, MacMillan H. Suicidal behaviour among young people with self-reported chronic illness. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry 2017 (In Press).
Saigal S, Ferro MA, Van Lieshout RJ, Schmidt LA, Morrison KM, Boyle MH. Quality of life trajectories of Canadian extremely low birth weight survivors into adulthood. Journal of Pediatrics 2016;179 (December):68-73.
Ferro MA, Van Lieshout RJ, Ohayon H, Scott J. Emotional and behavioral problems in adolescents and young adults with food allergy. Allergy 2016;71(4):532-540.
Ferro MA. Major depressive disorder, suicidal behavior, bipolar disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder among emerging adults with and without chronic health conditions. Epidemiology & Psychiatric Sciences 2016;25(5):462-474.
Ferro MA, Gorter JW, Boyle MH. Trajectories of depressive symptoms in Canadian emerging adults. American Journal of Public Health 2015;105(11):2322-2327.
Ferro MA, Boyle MH. The impact of chronic physical illness, maternal depressive symptoms, family functioning, and self-esteem on symptoms of anxiety and depression in children. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 2015;43(1):177-187.
Selected professional activities and networks
Member, College of Reviewers, Canadian Institutes of Health Research
Member, International Federation of Psychiatric Epidemiology (IFPE)
Member, Canadian Academy of Psychiatric Epidemiology (CAPE)
Member, Canadian Society for Epidemiology and Biostatistics (CSEB)
Scientist, Offord Centre for Child Studies, McMaster University
Scientist, CanChild Centre for Childhood Disability Research, McMaster University