McMaster child health expert named CIHR researcher of the year
by Suzanne Morrison
November 18, 2009
Courtesy of the Hamilton Spectator
One in five children in Canada suffers from an emotional, behavioural or psychiatric problem. We read this in newspapers. We hear it on the radio. We see it on television.
What most Canadians don't know is that this statistic comes from the Ontario Child Health Study (OCHS) - the pioneering work of McMaster University researchers Michael Boyle, PhD, and the late Dr. Dan Offord, remembered as Canada's most distinguished child psychiatrist.
The OCHS study is recognized as the single most important study of children's mental health in Canada. Offord is considered the study's "spiritual leader", and Boyle its "scientific heart".
In recognition of the lasting impact his research has had on Canadian health, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) has named Boyle the 2009 Researcher of the Year in Health Services and Systems and Population Health.
Boyle is currently a professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences at McMaster University and holds the Canada Research Chair in the Social Determinants of Child Health. His research career has been devoted to understanding the social, economic and environmental factors that shape children's mental health.
In the past few years, Boyle has expanded his research through the analysis of large population studies conducted in the developing world. He has examined a number of influences on child health, including the effects of migration, polygamy, women's education, exposure to passive smoking and biofuel smoke on child growth; women's protective behaviour associated with AIDS prevention; and the influence of women's education on intimate partner violence.
In the next two years, Boyle would like to facilitate the development and implementation of another study of child and adolescent mental health in Canada.
"There have been dramatic social and economic changes in our country since the Ontario Child Health Study was done more than 25 years ago," he said.
"A study is needed to estimate current levels of mental health among children and adolescents in the general population to assess the impact of mental health problems on their quality life, to identify exemplary child and adolescent mental health service delivery systems in communities that might serve as models for other jurisdictions, and to study the influence of social contexts on child and adolescent mental health."