Forensic Psychiatry Research

Research highlights within the Division include:  

  • Dr. Nathan Kolla is involved with investigations in neuroimaging of impulsive and aggressive individuals. Positron emission tomography (PET) studies are currently underway that seek to understand the neurochemical correlates of impulsive, aggressive behavior in individuals with borderline personality disorder or antisocial personality disorder. These studies investigate monoamine oxidase A binding – a brain protein implicated in aggression and impulsivity. Genetic analyses and fMRI of these populations are also being pursued. Dr. Jeff Meyer is the primary investigator working with Dr. Nathan Kolla.
  • The HCR 20, one of the most important risk assessment tools in forensic mental health, was coauthored by Prof Chris Webster, Professor emeritus. Dr. Webster and colleagues released the HCR 20 V3 in 2013, the first revision of this tool since 1997. It represents a major consolidation of the principles of structured professional judgment methodologies. Initial work on inter-rater reliability is occurring at CAMH as well as 2 studies exploring concurrent and predictive validity.
  • An epidemiological research program is being developed at CAMH by Drs. Simpson and Penney to explore a series of studies of patterns of mental illness and violence in Ontario. The methodologies for this are in development, and include time trend studies of ORB patient numbers, patterns of homicide and mental illness and case register based studies derived from the CAMH population.
  • Correctional Psychiatry: the problem of serious mental illness in prison and jail settings is a major issue of public policy concern. The Division has been involved in public discussion regarding this theme, and a developing line of publications and now CIHR funded research on the longitudinal course for inmates with mental distress during incarceration. This work is linked to clinical service development.