The Research Chair in Community Social Pediatrics aims to promote academic excellence in research on the social determinants of health specific to the development of children and adolescents living in vulnerable conditions.
In Quebec, children and adolescents living in economically / socially vulnerable conditions and facing socio-emotional adversity are overrepresented among those with learning and behavioral difficulties, particularly externalized ones (Quinlan et al., 2017). In fact, exposure to psychosocial stress can alter cerebral development, creating a risk for the development of behavioral problems (Mackey et al.,2015) linked to impulsivity and emotion regulation (Afzali et al., 2020).
To date, the literature on the effectiveness of the PreVenture program shows the importance of focussing on prevention and the development of interventions that aim to support this vulnerable population in psychosocial and mental health issues. It also highlights the possibility to intervene regardless of the vulnerability type and threshold by adapting the means used to offer support (Edalati et al. 2019; Slade et al., 2020) and by making them accessible to all (Edalati & Conrod, 2020).
To address the problems facing youth in several disadvantaged neighborhoods across the province, the Marcelle and Jean Coutu Research Chair in Community Social Pediatrics at the University of Montreal is based on specific intervention models and programs. Dr Gilles Julien developed the Community Social Pediatrics (CSP) model integrating different individualized interventions for youth and their families. The model was inspired by the ecobiodevelopmental framework that guides various interventions for children exposed to economic and social poverty.
The framework accounts for the impact of such adversity on a child’s developmental trajectory and refers to ‘toxic stress’ as a result of prolonged activation of biological responses to stress due to a sustained exposure to adverse experiences in early childhood. Early exposure to adverse experiences can also affect the natural coping capacities needed to face later challenges. Moreover, it can increase the risk that the vulnerable context itself perpetuates within the community through a cycle of abuse that promotes inappropriate social behaviors (Edalati & Conrod, 2020).
Although the CSP model is widely implemented in various communities across the province, it has not yet been evaluated with respect to its long-term effects.
The research program of the chair consists of two phases:
➔ The pilot study (ongoing): Using a pre-post intervention design, this proof-of-concept study was launched in 2018 and is conducted in collaboration with DrJulien’s Foundation and six CSP centers across the province of Quebec.
➔ The larger-scale study (forthcoming): Whose design will be informed by the pilot’s findings in order to meet four objectives.