Health Sciences - Theses, Dissertations, and other Required Graduate Degree Essays

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Characterization of the interaction of the dopamine D2 receptor and the cannabinoid CB1 receptor and its effects on signal transduction pathways

Date created: 
2013-11-27
Abstract: 

Activation of either the cannabinoid CB1 receptor CB1 or dopamine D2 receptor D2R inhibits cAMP production since both are Gαi/o linked G protein-coupled receptors. This study confirms the interaction of CB1 and D2R with co-immunoprecipitation experiments using HEK-293T cells co-expressing both receptors. Moreover, GST and His-tagged fusion proteins of CB1 and D2R were generated and used in affinity purification assays to show that the carboxyl terminus of the CB1 receptor interacts with the third intracellular loop of the D2 receptor to form the CB1-D2R complex. Additionally, the CB1-D2R complex is formed by a direct protein-protein interaction. Furthermore, the activation of either D2R or CB1 in HEK-293T cells co-expressing both receptors leads to inhibition of forskolin stimulated cAMP accumulation. However, co-activation of both receptors results in a loss of cAMP inhibition. This study characterizes the interaction between CB1 and D2R as well as demonstrates the functional outcomes of the receptor complex.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Frank Lee
Department: 
Health Sciences: Faculty of Health Sciences
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.

Housing First and Unprotected Sex: A Structural Intervention

Author: 
Date created: 
2014-05-22
Abstract: 

Previous studies have found a high prevalence of sexually transmitted infections and associated risk behaviours among homeless and marginally housed adults. Although individual-level characteristics and their association with risk behaviours have traditionally been a major focus of research, the importance of structural factors, such as housing, that impact these behaviours have received increasing attention. Supported housing interventions like Housing First (HF) have been argued to potentially contribute to reductions in sexual risk behaviours. Using an experimental design, the present study investigated the effect of HF on unprotected sex among homeless adults with mental illness with a treatment as usual (TAU) comparison group. Over the 24 months of follow-up, no association was found between HF and unprotected sex when compared to TAU. Several other variables were independently associated with unprotected sex. Results indicate that in conjunction with HF, additional interventions are needed to reduce unprotected sex among homeless individuals with mental illness.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Julian Somers
Department: 
Health Sciences: Faculty of Health Sciences
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.P.H.

Exploring the relationship between mental disorder categories and recidivism in British Columbia: A population-based study

Date created: 
2013-05-10
Abstract: 

Evidence suggests the burden of treatable mental disorders on the correctional population is substantial. However, it remains unclear whether a non-substance related mental disorder diagnosis (NSMD) is independently associated with different levels of recidivism risk. This study estimated NSMD diagnostic rates for the BC Provincial correctional population and examined the association between NSMD diagnoses and recidivism by conducting a time to event analysis. Overall, 47% of Provincial offenders received a NSMD diagnosis. The risk of recidivism was greater among those diagnosed with personality disorder and lower for those diagnosed with depressive disorder. Findings signify an essential component needed to improve offender health includes greater provision of correctional mental health services and research suggesting an indirect relationship exists between most mental disorder categories and recidivism is supported. Additionally, intervention strategies that target underlying mediating factors may be more effective at reducing recidivism than the exclusive treatment of psychiatric symptoms.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Julian Somers
Department: 
Health Sciences: Faculty of Health Sciences
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.

Use of a School-based Audit Tool for Guiding Anti-racism Education in Schools: A Pilot Assessment

Date created: 
2014-04-08
Abstract: 

The negative health impacts of racism and race-based discrimination have been well established within the public health literature. Though public health acknowledges racism and education as determinants of health, the field has failed to adequately address the health-harming impacts of racism within the education system, and thus has underutilized anti-racism work as a preventative and health equity strategy. This project piloted a school-based audit tool to assess school policies and practices for supporting cultural diversity and addressing race-based discrimination in two Alberta junior high schools to explore how an audit could be useful in guiding the development of anti-racism education. The study found that the utilization of an audit tool can help to begin a process of formalized discussion and raising awareness about interpersonal and institutional racism within educational contexts; however, the tool needs to be paired with action-oriented steps to successfully address racism as a determinant of health and education.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Lorraine Halinka Malcoe
Marina Morrow
Department: 
Health Sciences: Faculty of Health Sciences
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.P.H.

Characteristics of young adult crack-cocaine users in Brazil: A sex- and gender-based analysis

Date created: 
2013-12-10
Abstract: 

Crack-cocaine use represents a major social and public health challenge in Brazil. Important sex and gender differences have been found among crack users in other countries, but little comparative data exists regarding male and female crack users in Brazil. This secondary, sex-and-gender-based analysis explores potential sex differences in key characteristics of a community-based sample of young crack users (n=159) in two Brazilian cities. Participants completed an anonymous questionnaire on social, health and behavioural characteristics, and serological testing for HIV and HCV. Data was analyzed using univariate and stepwise discriminant analyses. Discriminant modeling found that: (1) Paid work, HIV testing, sex work, and begging differentiated male and female crack users; (2) Female sex independently predicted HIV testing history; and (3) Alcohol use, poor self-rated mental health and an absence of paid work predicted unprotected sex among participants. These findings suggest the need for gender-specific prevention strategies targeting sex-related risk among young Brazilian crack users.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Benedikt Fischer
Department: 
Health Sciences: Faculty of Health Sciences
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.

Thinking outside the brain: Testing predictors of drug addiction anticipated by dislocation theory

Date created: 
2014-04-10
Abstract: 

Considerable financial, technological, and human resources are currently spent on the expansion of a brain-disease model of drug addiction in humans. This model conceptualizes addiction as a disease arising from the combined effects of drug interactions with susceptible brain physiology. Psychosocial models of addiction provide an important complement to brain-disease models by addressing social, cultural, and environmental determinants of addiction. The present work describes an emergent, systematized model known as the dislocation theory of addiction, and draws on data from the Vancouver At Home trial on homelessness and mental illness to test a hypothesized relationship between psychosocial integration and drug addiction. Results from multivariate logistic regression analysis indicate that both included dimensions of psychosocial integration (physical and psychological) remain associated with addiction to drugs other than alcohol and cannabis after controlling for a variety of lifestyle and demographic factors. Increased physical integration scores were found to predict reduced odds of daily drug use, while increased psychological integration scores predicted increased odds. Findings are reconciled with existing dislocation theory literature and further opportunities for evaluating the dislocation theory are discussed.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Julian Somers
Department: 
Health Sciences: Faculty of Health Sciences
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.

The rise and fall of the Occupational Health and Safety Agency for Healthcare (OHSAH) in British Columbia, 1999 – 2010

Date created: 
2013-11-21
Abstract: 

This thesis analyzes the conditions giving rise to the Occupational Health and Safety Agency for Healthcare (OHSAH), its mandate, what it accomplished, why it was dismantled, and how its legacy can be preserved. Policy decisions contributing to the agency’s establishment and closure are explored from the perspective of stakeholders/key informants. A quantitative analysis compares injury and lost work time rates among healthcare workers with other industrial sectors and considers the costs associated with time loss from work as the result of slips, trips, falls, musculoskeletal and other injuries, and injury-related insurance claims. The competing interests and unequal distribution of power among healthcare employers and healthcare workers are described. OHSAH’s limited success in mobilizing supporters is discussed. Fundamental misperceptions and missteps are identified that contributed to OHSAH’s inability to secure champions to ensure the agency’s continued operation in the face of limited financial resources. Finally, this paper makes recommendations to further OHSAH’s legacy.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
John Calvert
Department: 
Health Sciences: Faculty of Health Sciences
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.P.H.

Persistent organic pollutants and type 2 diabetes mellitus

Author: 
Date created: 
2013-11-29
Abstract: 

This study quantified the associations between plasma concentrations of persistent organic pollutants (POP) and type 2 diabetes (T2D) in cycle 1 (2007-2009) of the Canadian Health Measures Survey, a cross-sectional sample representative of 96% of Canadians. The sample included 1,612 participants aged 20 to 79. The analyses include nineteen POPs detectable in at least 60% of plasma samples. After adjusting for obesity, body mass index, daily leisure energy expenditure and age, a significant (p<0.05) association was observed with polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) congeners 153, 170, 180, and with organochlorine pesticides including β-hexachlorocyclohexane, and hexachlorobenzene. The summed measures of non-dioxin-like PCBs, and PCB 1260 (Aroclor) were also significantly associated with T2D. The summed plasma levels did not interact with the association of obesity and T2D. Exposure to these POPs should be considered when assessing risk factors for and policies to reduce, T2D and potentially other chronic diseases.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Scott Venners
Department: 
Health Sciences: Faculty of Health Sciences
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.

Practical and Ethical Issues in Conducting Health Research with Refugees

Date created: 
2013-09-18
Abstract: 

Research is needed in Canada to understand refugees’ health challenges and barriers to accessing health services. There are practical and ethical challenges for engaging refugees as participants. This study observed five recruitment methods and three informed consent strategies for four Government Assisted Refugee (GAR) language groups (Somali, Arabic, Karen and Farsi/Dari) in British Columbia. Demographic, attitudes and knowledge questionnaires were administered and language concordant focus groups explored participant perspectives on practical and ethical research issues. Participants’ knowledge and experience with research was generally low particularly for groups with low formal education. Recruitment success was influenced by participants’ familiarity with the research team. Twenty-three variables impacting participants’ willingness to participate in research were identified. There were high rates of consent form signing which were even higher with implied consent options. Participants’ identified challenges and strategies for the informed consent process. This research provides guidance for involving Canadian refugees in health research.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Nicole Berry
Department: 
Health Sciences: Faculty of Health Sciences
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.

Something to think about: informing Canadians about ethical concerns in medical tourism

Date created: 
2013-07-25
Abstract: 

Medical tourists, persons traveling across international borders with the intention of accessing medical care, are often unaware of safety and ethical concerns related to the practice of medical tourism. Accessing medical care as a medical tourist may result in risks to the health of the patient, as well as negative impacts to both destination and departure country health care systems and global health equity. These ethical considerations are not provided in sources of information commonly accessed by Canadian medical tourists. This interview-based study affirms the usefulness of an iterative process for designing an information sheet for Canadians considering engaging in medical tourism and for communicating ethical considerations to consumers of other services. Perceptions from former Canadian medical tourists indicate that this information sheet is useful in raising awareness of the ethical concerns of medical tourism, which may impact medical tourists’ decision-making given adequate additional sources of information and support.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Jeremy Snyder
Department: 
Health Sciences: Faculty of Health Sciences
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.P.H.