Collaborative RESearch Team to study psychosocial issues
in Bipolar Disorder (CREST.BD)
E-newsletter, Edition 5 December, 2007
In this issue
CREST.BD team activities in New Zealand CREST.BD collaborative activities
CREST.BD team member news Keep saving these dates!
CREST.BD team in New Zealand With acknowledgement to
VCHRI who provided a Global
Collaboration grant to support
Highlights from Christchurch meetings the CREST.BD team visit to
QHRs Erin Michalak and Melinda Suto arrived in Christchurch, Australia and New Zealand
New Zealand on November 6th to springtime in the southern
hemisphere: flowers blooming, birds singing, and glorious blue
skies. Carolyn Doughty, National Coordinator of BalanceNZ
(www.balance.org.nz) and CREST.BD team member, arranged
several meetings between team members and potential research
collaborators: Julia Rucklidge (University of Canterbury,
Department of Psychology), Lisa Whitehead and Virginia
Maskill (University of Otago, Christchurch School of Medicine
and Health Sciences). Erin and Melinda also met with Richard
Porter, Consultant Psychiatrist at Te Awakura adult inpatient
unit, who has a particular clinical interest in the treatment of
severe affective disorder. Virginia Maskill discussed her group’s
Psychotherapy for Bipolar Disorder Study protocol with team
members and expressed interest in further discussions.
These meetings provided opportunities to publicise Sandra, Erin, Melinda and Frank (Balance NZ), Hamilton Botanical Gardens
the work of the CREST.BD team and explore whether
similar interests could lead to collaboration.
Lynere Wilson, the Manager of Bipolar Support Canterbury and peer-support worker Janie accompanied Erin and
Melinda to the Transformation Beyond Words art exhibit in Christchurch. The exhibit aimed to celebrate art
and creativity and work against the exclusion and marginality often experienced
by people with BD. One of the most compelling pieces was a professionally-
produced DVD created by a local Christchurch teenager with BD. Team
members then attended a dinner lecture where Professors Jayashri Kulkarni
(Monash University, Australia) and Sue Luty (University of Christchurch)
presented on Advances in Treatment in Women’s Mental Health Over the
Left: Erin Right: Melinda
and Sandra at the art exhibit
in search Transformation
of pesky Beyond Words
Auckland quality of life presentation and Balance NZ 2007 National Training
meeting Days conference
On November 13th, Samson Tse toured Sandra Hale, Erin and The team then traveled to Hamilton for the annual
Melinda around Auckland before Erin’s presentation on QoL and Balance NZ conference on November 16th and
functioning with BD, at the School of Population Health, 17th where they were warmly welcomed and
University of Auckland. There was a lively discussion prompted introduced to the Maori culture with a powhiri (a
by Erin’s work and Samson invited attendees to a lunchtime ceremony of welcome
research meeting later in extended to visitors).
the week. Shane Kanuta, Approximately 70 people
Wendy Lai and Ben attended the first day
Peckham from Supporting of the conference to hear a
Families with Mental Illness range of presentations on
and Samson’s student Grace BD, including talks on QoL
Wan (see photo) joined (Erin), wellness strategies
team members and discussed in BD (Melinda and
ideas about conducting Sandra) and employment
research with indigenous and issues in BD (Samson).
immigrant populations, Presentations on the second
University of Auckland (left to right): Ben Peckham, Pacific
which includes the concept Families Fieldworker at Supporting Families with Mental Illness;
day covered suicide
and practice of cultural safety. Wendy Lai, Asian Family Fieldworker; Grace Wan, Samson’s prevention and Balance
Although this group’s master’s student, at the University of Auckland, School of NZ’s Creating Hope Project
experiences and knowledge are Population Health; Sandra Hale; Shane Kanuta, Maori Whanau (Health through Online
Fieldworker; Erin Michalak. Seated: Melinda Suto; Samson Tse, Peer support and
particular to the New Zealand CREST.BD team member and Grace’s research supervisor at the
context, many of the lessons University of Auckland
Education) which uses
learned appeared relevant to cutting-edge technology to
CREST.BD initiatives. create an on-line peer
support community (see
for further details). The conference was
closed with a panel discussion directed by
Group meal conference participants.
Kudos to Carolyn Doughty and Frank
Erin, Richard Bristol for producing an excellent training
and Samson days conference! News from the
CREST.BD team visit to Australia and
Hawaii will be reported in the January
CREST.BD team member news
Monitoring sleep patterns may predict bipolar relapse:
preliminary research findings – a Swinburne Press Release
Preliminary findings from a study conducted by Dr Greg Murray, Clinical
Psychologist and Senior Lecturer at Swinburne University of Technology
and his colleagues from Beyond Blue and the Centre for Rural Mental Health
suggest that automated monitoring can provide useful information about mood
changes for some people with bipolar disorder. Using a wristwatch-styled device
to monitor their sleep and activity levels may help people with bipolar disorder to
manage their condition and reduce the incidence of relapse. Participating patients Sandra and Erin gear up for some
have been noting their mood and medications daily. They have also been wearing hard work
an actigraph, a wristwatch-style device to record activity levels and sleep patterns.
With further research such a strategy could provide ‘early warning’ of potential relapse, giving the patient and
their psychologist time to implement techniques to prevent a full relapse, according to Dr Murray. “A number of
studies have shown that relapse, especially into mania, is preceded by consistent and identifiable milder
symptoms in the two to four weeks prior to full relapse. Our preliminary findings show a reliable correlation
between the strength of the patient’s internal body clock and the stability of their mood – the weaker the clock, the
greater the mood variation,” he said. While this correlation has been long suspected, this study provides the first
“Our study indicates that monitoring over extended time periods is feasible and may be able to identify signs of
imminent relapse and trigger early intervention to minimize the disruption and expense of a full-blown relapse,”
Dr Murray said. A full report on the study is expected to be completed by the end of 2008.
New Special Interest Group CREST.BD collaborative activities
Eric Youngstrom and Sheri Johnson have launched a
Bipolar Disorder Special Interest Group at the Association Erin and Greg have been working hard on the final
for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT). New stages of developing the QoL.BD, a condition-
members are welcome. specific measure to assess quality of life in BD.
Cultural Safety Symposium The CREST.BD team have rallied around admirably
Rachelle Hole is organizing a symposium on December 7th in helping them find a further 100 participants with
on Cultural Safety in Kelowna, British Columbia, co-hosted BD to complete the scale and give them a sufficient
by UBC-O, Okanagan Nation Alliance, and Interior Health sample size to perform exploratory/confirmatory
(funded by CIHR and Interior Health). See factor analysis. They hope to be able to finish the
http://web.ubc.ca/okanagan/hsd/news/cultural-safety.html project by January or February 2008.
for further information.
News from the University of Auckland
Samson Tse’s student Grace Wan plans to conduct a project that parallels the UBC study on wellness and self-
management strategies in people with BD as partial fulfillment for her master’s degree thesis. The new study will use
equivalent qualitative research methods to assess the strategies used by high-functioning individuals residing in the
Vanessa Cooper’s PhD study on BD and personal experience of stigma or discrimination within the workplace (not
during job-seeking phase) is progressing steadily and she has begun to write-up her dissertation. Samson is
supervising Vanessa’s research and they are keen to publish the findings after the study is completed.
Samson is interested in leading an article (or two articles: part 1 and 2) on BD and paid employment. A plan has been
proposed to other members of the writing team, Melinda and Erin.
CREST.BD: keep saving these dates!
The next CREST.BD annual team meeting and concurrent CME event is
scheduled for March 14 and 15, 2008 in Vancouver, BC.
We won’t be publishing another team newsletter in December.
Expect to see the next edition in January 2008. In the meantime,
our best wishes for a relaxing and enjoyable holiday season!