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September 2018

Addiction management in the palm of your hand

At a glance
The intern

Cianan Thompson, Deakin University, Australia

Hosted by

Dr. Michael Krausz, Centre for Health Evaluation and Outcome Sciences (CHEOS), University of British Columbia

Many of us use phone apps to manage daily habits such as meal planning, budgeting, and even tracking symptoms of chronic conditions. So what if a web-based app could help people struggling with addiction manage their condition and reduce their risk of overdose?

This is what the team at the University of British Columbia’s Centre for Health Evaluation and Outcome Sciences (CHEOS) is curious to explore. And this summer, they’ve engaged Cianan Thomson, a Mitacs research intern from Deakin University in Australia, to help the CHEOS team understand existing tools, as well as the opportunities they might provide for a novel approach.

“There are lots of apps out there for setting goals or managing health conditions like depression,” says UBC team member Anastasia Frank. “But it’s a bit harder to understand how an app might help someone who is managing an addiction.”

Cianan, an undergraduate student in marketing and commerce, is researching the available online tools for helping people with addiction and substance use disorders. The team wants to understand the capabilities of current options, and whether they have an impact on the health and safety of people who may be struggling. The hope is that the research could inform the CHEOS team’s long-term goal to create their own, research-backed tool to address North America’s current overdose crisis.

For Cianan, the experience this summer has been rewarding. She says, “When I first arrived in Canada, I didn’t know what to think. But now that I’m getting more involved in the research, the more I’m finding a sense of purpose and fulfilment. This research is so important and could really have an impact on people here in Vancouver, and in other places where there’s an overdose crisis. I’m so glad I came to Canada through Mitacs — this internship is the best thing I’ve ever done!”

Mitacs thanks the Government of Canada and the Government of British Columbia for their support of the Globalink research internship in this story. Across Canada, the Globalink research internship program also receives support from Alberta Innovates, the Government of New Brunswick, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Government of Nova Scotia, the Government of Ontario, the Government of Prince Edward Island, the Government of Quebec, the Government of Saskatchewan and Research Manitoba.

In addition, Mitacs is pleased to work with the following international partners to support the Globalink research internship program: Universities Australia; Brazil's Universidade de Sao Paulo; the China Scholarship Council; Campus France; the German Academic Exchange Service; Mexico’s Secretariat of Public Education and Tecnológico de Monterrey; Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Education; Tunisia’s Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, and Mission Universitaire de Tunisie en Amerique du Nord; and the Ukrainian-Canadian Foundation of Taras Shevchenko.

Do you have a business challenge that could benefit from a research solution? If so, contact Mitacs today to discuss partnership opportunities: