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PhD Spotlight – Elmira Mirbahaeddin

Elmira Mirbahaeddin joined the PhD in Management program at Telfer in 2017, after completing her master’s in executive management (urban affairs) and bachelor’s in health-care management in Iran. She also holds project management professional certification. She is working under the supervision of Professor Samia Chreim, specializing in health systems.

We interviewed Elmira to learn more about her research interests in mental health care and the role of peer support workers (PSWs). A PSW — not to be confused with a personal support worker — is someone who has a lived experience of an issue (e.g., homelessness, addiction or mental health) and provides help and recovery-oriented services to others experiencing the same issue.

Why did you choose to study health systems at Telfer?

I started my doctoral studies in the health systems specialization to build on my previous academic background and professional experiences in health workforce policy. I aimed to incept meaningful research after my immigration to Canada that would make a difference for the better. I have applied theories of management, particularly the ones from OB/HR, to enrich my exploration in mental health care. It was fascinating to me to have the opportunity to draw on the expertise at Telfer and explore intersecting research questions between health systems and OB/HR. Sounds ambitious, but it was a strong driving force for me.

What is your research about and what will it contribute to academic literature?

Following the pandemic, my research focused on the transition from in-person to virtual peer support during COVID-19 and its impact on providers and users of peer support. It involved a partnership with a not-for-profit organization for data collection and conducting research that mattered to the community. The project examined the changes that occurred to the work role of PSWs and managers, the strategies that they used to adapt to the sudden change and the challenges and benefits of this change.

You recently published an article in Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services. What are the highlights from that study?

In early 2022, I published my first thesis paper with my supervisor Dr. Samia Chreim. It is an original paper about factors influencing peer support implementation in mental health systems. These factors were presented in a multilevel model including system (socio-cultural, regulatory and political, economic and financial factors), organization (organizational culture, leadership, change management approaches and human resource management policies) and individual level (pertaining to relationships between PSWs and team members) factors. I presented the preliminary results of this research at the Canadian Association for Health Services and Policy conference, 2021.

What impact could your research have on Canadian mental health care?

My first article contributed to research, policy and practice domains concerning the important topic of integrating PSWs in mental health teams, organizations and systems as a way to improve access to mental health and social services. The next chapters of my thesis will provide important social outcomes in terms of sustaining helpful peer support programs and understanding the resilience of vulnerable people in crises.

About the Author

Rania Nasrallah a rejoint le bureau de recherche Telfer en 2019. Elle a obtenu son doctorat en médecine à l'Université d'Ottawa et apporte à ce rôle plus de deux décennies d'expérience en recherche. Rania participe à tous les aspects du mandat du Bureau de la recherche et est responsable de fournir un large éventail de services aux membres du corps professoral et aux étudiants de recherche de deuxième et troisième cycle. Elle gère les subventions internes et les bourses d'études, et participe à la stratégie de communication de la recherche. Elle fournit également un soutien aux chercheurs avant l'attribution des subventions afin de maximiser le succès du financement au niveau national et international. En outre, elle travaille en étroite collaboration avec le Vice-doyen à la recherche pour élaborer et mettre en œuvre des stratégies visant à améliorer le financement et la vélocité de la recherche à Telfer, conformément à notre vision pour créer un meilleur Canada et un meilleur monde pour tous.<br/><br/>Rania Nasrallah joined the Telfer Research Office in 2019. She completed her PhD in Medicine at the University of Ottawa and brings over two decades of research experience to this role. Rania is involved in all aspects of the mandate of the Research Office and is responsible for providing a wide range of services to faculty members and research based graduate students. She manages internal grants, student awards, and participates in the research communication strategy. She also provides pre-award support to researchers to optimize funding success nationally and internationally. In addition she works closely with the Vice Dean Research to develop and implement strategies to enhance research funding and intensity at Telfer following our vision to create a better Canada and a better world for all.

Profile Photo of Rania Nasrallah