Dr. Philip Gerretsen is a clinician-scientist in the Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute and Geriatric Mental Health Services at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. He is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto.
Areas of Research
Impaired illness awareness is a well-recognized, but understudied phenomenon that contributes to minimization and denial of the need for treatment with devastating clinical and social consequences. Dr. Gerretsen’s research has focused on the identification of the neural correlates of impaired illness awareness in schizophrenia primarily through structural and functional neuroimaging. The results have provided prospective biomarkers and regional brain targets for intervention psychotherapeutically and with noninvasive neurostimulation, such as transcranial direct current, magnetic and vestibular stimulation. The next step is to extend this work to other neuropsychiatric and medical conditions that can feature impaired illness awareness, including neurodegenerative disorders, obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and addictions. The relevance of this work lies in the potential to alter individuals’ attitude toward their illness and treatment. This would lead ultimately to an improvement in individuals’ capacity for illness recognition and engagement in treatment, which would, in turn, have a significant impact on disease management.
Links to where one can find measures of illness awareness for different conditions can be found at: www.vagusonline.com (psychosis and schizophrenia spectrum disorders) www.illnessawarenessscales.com (metabolic disorders, including obesity, diabetes, and hypertension)
Related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Gerretsen has also conducted a large extensive international survey of Canadian and US participants at different timepoints over the course of the pandemic to determine the individual behavioral determinants of vaccine hesitancy and social distancing measure adherence. The results have been used by the government to direct interventions to promote vaccine acceptance.
The database can be accessed at: http://covid19-database.com/
View Dr. Gerretsen’s publications on PubMed.