By Sean O’Malley
CAMH is pleased to introduce the CAMH Centre for Complex Interventions and its Inaugural Director Dr. David Castle. The Centre will focus its clinical research on patients with complex medical health issues, many of whom have more than one diagnosis.
“One of the most common examples would be people with psychotic disorders like schizophrenia who also have substance use disorders,” said Dr. Castle. “We know that there are physical health issues associated with that. We know tragically that people with schizophrenia die about 20 years younger than they should, largely because of cardiovascular health problems. We are not making the major inroads we need to be making into major risk factors like smoking, exercise and diet.”
The Centre for Complex Interventions aims to take a holistic approach to patient health at CAMH.
“Medical services tend to be structured around single disease entities,” said Dr. Castle. “This centre is going to bridge across those services to try and provide more holistic, longitudinal care. I want the Centre to be as responsive to individual needs as possible and not just duplicate what’s already out there.”
One key aspect of the C[entre’s approach to clinical research will be fostering and promoting patient empowerment in the form of a patient self-management program that Dr. Castle pioneered in Australia called the Optimal Health Program (OHP).
The OHP encourages patients to take an active role in their own treatment, including setting goals for success and working on problem solving skills and other self-management supports.
“I’m very much about self-empowerment. Putting people in the driver’s seat of their lives,” said Dr. Castle. “Helping them deal with their symptoms. Helping them to deal with their physical health problems. Helping them deal with their drug and alcohol problems in a self-empowering, non-blaming way. I am hoping that the Optimal Health Program will be a useful addition to what will be provided to these individuals and their families. We are really keen on involving collaborative networks around people to manage their lives better. There will be a particular emphasis on patient and family engagement.”