Addiction management in the palm of your hand

Vancouver research team hosts international intern to explore web-based tools for safe drug use

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 would like to thank the Government of Canada, along with the Government of Alberta, the Government of British Columbia, Research Manitoba, and the Government of Quebec for their support of the Globalink Research Internship program. In addition, in the summer of 2019, Mitacs was pleased to work with the following international partners to support Globalink: Universities Australia; the China Scholarship Council; Campus France; the German Academic Exchange Service; Mexico’s Secretariat of Public Education, Tecnológico de Monterrey, and the National Autonomous University of Mexico; and Tunisia’s Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research and Mission Universitaire de Tunisie en Amerique du Nord.​

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