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CH&E Seminar Series

2021-2022 Schedule Mondays 12:30-1:30pm 

Coming up 


The journey of UniVenture: A substance misuse prevention and mental health promotion intervention for undergraduates across four provinces in Canada

Date & Time:

Monday, March 21, 2022 at 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm


Drs. Sherry Stewart and Yunus Fakir

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Canadian university undergraduate students display concerningly high rates of risky alcohol, cannabis, and prescription drug misuse. This substance misuse has harmful short- and long-term effects that negatively impact students, their friends and families, and their communities. Harms can include serious injury and even death. These persisting high rates of substance misuse reflect a lack of effectiveness of universal, one-size-fits-all prevention programs currently used by Canadian universities. Prevention programs that are targeted and personalized to characteristics of vulnerable students are greatly needed.

In 2019, we launched ‘UniVenture’ - a research partnership supported by SSHRC with the common goal of adapting, testing, and beginning to share an effective, sustainable targeted wellness program to tackle the timely social issue of heavy drinking and other substance misuse on Canadian campuses. Conceptually, it is based on an existing, successful, and internationally recognized and utilized program called ‘PreVenture’ designed for high school students. UniVenture is being implemented across five Canadian University-based sites: Dalhousie (Dal), Saint Francis Xavier (StFX), Université de Montréal (UdeM), York and University of British Columbia – Okanagan (UBC-O), in both English and French versions.

In this seminar, we will summarize findings of a series of qualitative and quantitative studies that we have been conducting as a part of the UniVenture project. We will describe the research we conducted to adapt the intervention for undergraduates, the adaptation process, and our feasibility and pre-post pilot study findings when the intervention was piloted in winter 2021. We will also describe the ongoing randomized controlled trial of UniVenture and our progress to date, as well as the challenges we have encountered in managing a large-scale trial across four provinces during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Goals are to evaluate the effects of in person and virtual versions of the UniVenture intervention on students’ substance-related harms, mental health, and academic outcomes.

Biographical Sketch:

Sherry H. Stewart, Ph.D., is a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Addictions and Mental Health and a Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, and Community Health and Epidemiology at Dalhousie University in Canada. Dr. Stewart is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. She is respected internationally for her research on psychosocial and motivational factors contributing to emotional disorders, addictive disorders, and their co-occurrence. With funding from Canadian Tri-Council research agencies (e.g., SSHRC; CIHR), she has developed/evaluated novel interventions for these disorders including substance use prevention programs for youth and interventions for women. She is also the Atlantic representative for the Quebec-Atlantic node of the CIHR-funded Canadian Research Initiative in Substance Misuse (CRISM) and sits on the CRISM national executive committee.

Yunus Fakir, PhD is a Mitacs Accelerate Post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Psychology at Dalhousie University. By background, Yunus is a medical doctor (MBBS) from Bangladesh (not registered in Canada). After completing MPH from BRAC University James P Grant School of Public Health, he completed MSc and PhD in Nutritional Epidemiology from The University of Saskatchewan. Major portion of his public health research career involved in managing several RCT studies. His current work focused on personality traits (four-factor model of personality vulnerability to substance misuse), various major mental health and substance use measures and their relationship with injury through an RCT. His research interests lie broadly in mental health and sleep epidemiology.