Media Release: One Million Dollar Donation Funding Groundbreaking Research on Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Health Care Professionals and Public Safety Personnel

Unique collaboration between Homewood Health, McMaster University, and Homewood Research Institute will advance learning and share information with academic, research, and treatment professionals.

GUELPH, ON, Sept. 27, 2021 – Homewood Research Institute (HRI) is excited to announce a significant national research initiative on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on health care professionals and public safety personnel.  This urgently needed research is funded by a one million dollar donation from Homewood Health, with work being led by internationally renowned researchers and clinician-scientists from McMaster University working in close collaboration with HRI, the Centre for Excellence on PTSD and leading researchers and organizations across Canada.

“There is much that we need to learn about the challenges faced by health care professionals and public safety personnel, individuals who have been impacted by COVID on a scale much greater than just about any other part of the population,” said Dr. Sidney Kennedy, Executive Director of HRI. “We welcome this generous gift by Homewood Health – the largest gift of its kind in HRI’s history. Homewood Health’s donation will support research efforts across multiple dimensions and will provide an important foundation of scientific data to guide the development of better interventions for prevention, assessment, treatment, and recovery.”

This research will provide key information relating to the significant challenges faced by health care professionals and public safety personnel during the pandemic, including not only elevated rates of burnout and moral injury but also day-to-day difficulties they face including disrupted sleep, lack of access to coping mechanisms (e.g., exercise facilities), and relationship difficulties brought on by the burden of pandemic response. This research will also examine the important and less-understood impact of the pandemic on health care professionals and public safety personnel within minority and marginalized communities.

“As a mental health partner and provider to health care professionals and public safety personnel across Canada, Homewood Health understands first-hand the importance of developing intervention efforts that will most benefit those who have put their lives, and those of their families, on the line,” said Jagoda Pike, CEO of Homewood Health. “By funding this groundbreaking research, Homewood Health is continuing its long-standing commitment to supporting these individuals whose unique experiences demand specialized knowledge and tailored treatment approaches.”

This research has already commenced involving a team of national and international researchers and clinician-scientists under the leadership of principal investigator Dr. Margaret McKinnon, Homewood Research Chair in Mental Health and Trauma and Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences at McMaster University, in collaboration with a team of scientists and learners from HRI, McMaster University, and Western University. Supporting the project are researchers and clinician-scientists from St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, the University of Regina, the University of Ottawa, the University of Vienna and the federally funded Centre of Excellence on PTSD. 

The initial phase of this project will focus on qualitative and quantitative research, with early findings being rapidly translated to new prevention and intervention strategies tailored to health care workers and public safety personnel. A second phase will implement, and critically evaluate, these novel approaches in different treatment settings ranging from inpatient to outpatient counselling and disseminate these approaches widely for the benefit of all Canadians.

“We are only beginning to recognize the day-to-day and long-term impact the COVID pandemic has had on people in these unique front-line roles,” said Dr. Margaret McKinnon, Principal Investigator. “This research will contribute important new data that will enhance our understanding of the enormous impact of the pandemic on health care workers and public safety personnel, and assist in developing novel interventions to facilitate the healing of those who serve us every day at what is often tremendous personal cost.” If you are a worker in the health care or public safety professions and would like to participate in this study, contact Isaac Beech atbeechi@mcmaster.ca or click the attached link: https://mckinnonlab.mcmaster.ca/surveys/?s=FDMP7YKTDT