Institute of Psychiatry, London, UK
April - August 2010
I started my fellowship in April 2010 at the Department of Epidemiology, Centre for Public Health at the Institute of Psychiatry (IOP). I have since been involved in a series of academic and research activities in the Institute.
1. Research Courses
a. An Introduction to Qualitative Research Methods: This course has provided me with an understanding of the purpose and appropriate use of qualitative research methods and equipped me with the basic skills to design and conduct qualitative research in the mental health field. I have also learnt research methods of in-depth interviews, focus group discussions and participant observation. It has also introduced me to different theoretical approaches to data collection and analysis including the grounded theory approach and Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA).
b. Measurements in mental health: In this course, I learnt about diagnostic classification and structured diagnostic assessments, scale theory (classical and IRT approaches) and scale development, practical considerations in drafting questionnaires, culture-fair assessment and cross-cultural comparison and evaluating psychometric properties of an instrument.
c. Mental Health Services Research: Evaluating Complexities: This course broadened my knowledge on how to choose appropriate research designs for studying complex interventions in mental health services. I learnt the theoretical basis for interventions, implementation of evidence-based interventions, and cluster randomized trials.
d. International Mental Health courses: The courses provided me with an in-depth understanding of the clinical and public health significance of mental health in the global context and the challenges involved in scaling up the coverage of evidence-based interventions to close the ‘mental health gap’. The courses also equipped me with advanced skills in epidemiological, trial and policy research in cross cultural mental health.
e. Future courses: I am already registered to attend courses on "Economic Evaluation", "Mental Health Policy" and "Reducing Coercive Interventions in Mental Health Care" later in the year.
2. Statistics courses
I attended courses on "Introductory Statistics", "Training in Statistical Software" and "Specialist Statistical Methodologies for Behavioral Research". These are basic and advanced courses in statistical analysis using STATA and SPSS data analysis and statistical software.
My research activities were mainly domiciled in the Department of Epidemiology although I had interactions with other departments as follows:
1. Department of Epidemiology
(a) Perinatal Mental Health in Ethiopia: I am currently analyzing data from the Perinatal Mental Health in Ethiopia study. This large scale study seeks to find out the mechanism through which maternal mental health affects infant health, for example through earlier cessation of breastfeeding, poorer maternal help-seeking behaviour on behalf of their infant (e.g., vaccination and treatment for illnesses) and difficulties maintaining an hygienic home environment.
(b) 10/66 Dementia studies: I was introduced to members of the 10/66 research group where I learnt the theories and methodologies of the studies. The research group is a network of more than 100 scientists from across the world who work together to discover the prevalence and causes of dementia in different countries and to find evidence-based solutions.
2. Other departments
I was introduced to research studies in other departments where I attended research meetings and presentations of papers. These include the Department of Psychosis; I was involved in the AESOP and GAP studies. The AESOP (Aetiology and Ethnicity of Schizophrenia and Other Psychoses) study is a large first-presentation study of schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders while the GAP (Genetics and Psychotic Illness) study is to identify new susceptibility genes for psychosis and establish their clinical significance in terms of symptoms, course of illness, response to medication and other biological and neurological traits.
1. Department of Epidemiology
I have a regular fortnightly research supervision meeting with the Head of Department where my progress in each of my activities is discussed and reviewed and advices and suggestion proffered.
I am actively involved in the departmental journal club meetings, case conference and grand rounds. I also attend meetings of various epidemiology interest groups and the Health Services and Population Research Departmental seminars.
I am presently involved (with supervision) in writing proposals for funding from various institutions like DfID, MRC and the Wellcome Trust.
2. Other departments
I regularly attend conferences and workshops of interest to my fellowship and I participated in the conference “Epidemiology and Treatment of Perinatal Psychiatric Disorders: Building on the Evidence Base” organized by the Department of Perinatal Mental Health. This conference included results of innovative epidemiological studies and major trials of interventions for perinatal disorder.
The WPA research fellowship has actually exposed me to a broad range of research and academic activities. I am looking forward to a more challenging and rewarding latter half of the programme.