Our Studies

The role of values, acceptance, and

mindfulness strategies in long term weight


Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a psychological therapy shown to help develop and maintain weight-related healthy habits.  ACT calls attention to values based actions (i.e., taking part in behaviours that are deeply important to you), mindfulness (i.e., staying present in the here and now and not judging or reacting to your actions or behaviour), acceptance (i.e., willingness to experience uncomfortable or difficult thoughts and feelings, in order to take part in the behaviour important to you) and self-compassion (i.e., treating yourself with kindness and understanding when you take a detour from the behaviour that is important to you).

In this pilot study, we tested whether an 8-week telephone based coaching program would be a useful tool in improving the health outcomes of those Nova Scotians who underwent bariatric surgery. We chose to deliver the program via phone to increase accessibility to services particularly in rural areas of Nova Scotia. And we chose a “coaching” format instead of therapy in order to train non-psychologists to deliver the program and thereby build capacity. We looked to see if our project is effective in improving multiple important outcomes such as reduced weight re-gain, psychological well-being, and quality of life. If the project is successful, we may be able to offer a lower cost, sustainable, accessible program and thereby improve the quality of life and health of or Nova Scotians living with obesity.


Predicting and Reducing Non-Adherence in

Chronic Disease: Validating a Novel

Clinical  Tool (Traffic Light)

Non-adherence poses a significant problem in healthcare, both for the health of patients and to the cost it imposes on the health care system. Non-adherence is defined by the World Health Organization as “the extent to which a person’s behaviour-taking medication, following a diet, and/or executing lifestyle changes, corresponds with agreed recommendations from a health care provider”. The purpose of this study is to determine whether a novel clinical tool, which we refer to as the Traffic Light Assessment, is an effective means of predicting nonadherence in patients with kidney disease and their adherence to dialysis attendance. Potential patients were identified by a member of their medical team to participate in the research study. Following informed consent discussions, a readiness assessment about their attendance at dialysis for the following week was performed. The research team tracked whether the patient attended dialysis for the recommended number of times and length. The patient will then be called after their week of dialysis to learn more about why they did or did not attend dialysis.

Alberta Project

Chronic diseases are among the most common and costly health problems, they are also among the most preventable. Primary health care workers can support their client’s management of chronic disease by advocating healthy behaviors. However, most health care providers don’t have the training to effectively help manage their clients’ healthy behaviors. For the first time, we have an online curriculum teaching health care providers behavior change skills within the scope of their practice. 

In this 8 week study, health care provider training was conducted online to observe the effectiveness of training compared to in-person training. Alberta health care providers watched 6 behavior change skills training video sessions of about 30 minutes – one hour in length. Participants scheduled about one hour per week to watch each video and answer its corresponding online questions. 
The 8 week program protocol:
1. Week 1: online pre-intervention  behavior skills questionnaire
2. Weeks 2-7: one video session/week
3. Week 8: online post-intervention behavior skills questionnaire

To circumvent conflicting patient care appointments, participants were given a total of 10 weeks to complete the training.

Results of the effectiveness of the training will be posted when study analysis has been completed.