Message from Division Lead, Randi McCabe
Members of the Division of Anxiety focus on anxiety and related disorders by conducting innovative research, providing training for students and health professionals, and delivering state-of-the-art care to individuals seeking assessment and treatment for these conditions.
The Anxiety Treatment and Research Clinic (ATRC) at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton serves as the main hub of division activity. The ATRC is a specialized outpatient program dedicated to clinical service, education, and research in the area of anxiety disorders. Located in a large community hospital affiliated with McMaster University, the ATRC receives over 3,000 referrals each year and provides comprehensive assessment and treatment services including an early intervention assessment stream for youth with obsessive compulsive disorder.
In addition to offering state-of-the-art assessments and treatments for anxiety disorders, the ATRC is one of Canada’s leading centres for training and research in the area of anxiety. Each year, 25 to 30 students from various disciplines (psychology, psychiatry, nursing, occupational therapy, and social work) complete clinical and research training at the clinic, making it an exciting hub of activity with numerous opportunities for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.
The ATRC houses a network of established investigators with international collaborations researching various aspects of anxiety and related disorders. Research in the ATRC encompasses studies designed to further our understanding of the mechanisms underlying the etiology and maintenance of anxiety disorders as well as the development and evaluation of new assessment methods and treatment approaches including innovative cognitive behavioural interventions.
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health conditions with a high lifetime prevalence such that approximately one in three people will experience an anxiety disorder at some point in their life (Bandelow & Michaelis, 2015). Despite the high prevalence of anxiety disorders, they are often underrecognized and undertreated. Thus, the research programs of members of the Division of Anxiety to advance our understanding of anxiety and related disorders including the development of new assessment and intervention methods is of critical importance.
The teaching and training efforts of members of the division, both locally and in the community, contributes to the development of anxiety disorder expertise in health professionals, which increases access for those with an anxiety disorder to receive evidence-based interventions that reduce suffering and improve functioning and quality of life.
Members of the Division of Anxiety are actively involved in providing teaching, training, and supervision in assessment and management of anxiety and related disorders to a range of learners from various disciplines as well as health professionals.
Education activities in the division include teaching and supervision of psychiatry residents in McMaster University’s Master of Science Psychotherapy Program for academic half-days and the cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) anxiety module; teaching and supervision of CBT levels 1-3 in the Clinical Behavioural Sciences Program; supervision and teaching of graduate students in the research clinical training stream of the Psychology Graduate Program and the Neuroscience Graduate Program at McMaster; supervision and teaching of trainees in the St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton Psychology Residency Program; and supervision of undergraduate research students in the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour and Bachelor of Health Sciences programs.
The Anxiety Treatment and Research Clinic (ATRC) is the hub of clinical activity in the Division of Anxiety. Referrals to the ATRC go through St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton’s central intake program.
Members of the Division of Anxiety played a major role in the development of the Health Quality Ontario clinical guidelines for anxiety disorders and obsessive compulsive disorder. Division members have also been active in disseminating evidence-based treatments through publishing of books for consumers and clinicians. These books have been translated into many languages and have been distributed across the globe.
Anxiety-related books published by members of the Division of Anxiety:
Research in the Division of Anxiety encompasses studies designed to further our understanding of the mechanisms underlying the etiology and maintenance of anxiety and related disorders as well as the development and evaluation of new assessment methods and treatment approaches.
There are many ongoing research initiatives in the Division of Anxiety. Here are a few examples:
The Diagnostic Assessment Research Tool (DART) is an open-access, semi-structured diagnostic interview for assessing DSM-5 mental disorders that developed by psychologists at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton and who are affiliated with the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences at McMaster University. Offering the DART as an open-access tool allows for greater access to a semi-structured psychodiagnostic tool that can be used in clinical and research settings with adult populations. In addition, the DART’s modular design offers interviewers the flexibility to administer the entire interview or individual disorder-specific modules, which can reduce the duration of the interview and make the interview less burdensome to interviewees. The DART can also be used in conjunction with the DART questionnaire, a self-report screening tool, that can guide interviewers to relevant modules to administer.
The following is a list of the DART modules and the DSM-5 disorders assessed in each module:
McCabe, R. E., Milosevic, I., Rowa, K., Shnaider, P., Pawluk, E. J., Antony, M. M. & the DART Working Group. (2021). Diagnostic Assessment Research Tool (DART), Version 4. Hamilton, ON: St. Joseph’s Healthcare/McMaster University.
Access to this instrument is not restricted, however the DART is intended to be used by trained professionals. It is the responsibility of the person(s) using this assessment to ensure that the right credentials, education, and training are met to administer and interpret the results, or that learners are supervised by a professional meeting these requirements.
The DART was developed in Canada by psychologists primarily at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton and in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences at McMaster University.
A study of the psychometric properties of the DART is currently underway funded by a Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Project Grant.