top of page


links to selected papers

Publications: Publications

GWAS-identified genetic variants associated with medication-assisted treatment outcomes in patients with opioid use disorder: a systematic review and meta-analysis protocol

In this protocol, we describe the methodology used to conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies reporting on treatment outcomes for individuals with opioid use disorder. This is significant because it is the protocol of the first review to date that aims to assess and synthesize genome-wide significant findings in this field of study. Identifying these genetic variants will allow us to replicate them in future genetic research, confirming their involvement in patient treatment outcomes within the opioid addiction population.

Genetic determinants of cannabis use: a systematic review protocol

With cannabis availability increasing, and known heritability of cannabis use disorder, it is important to understand the genetic risk factors associated with cannabis use. As such, this protocol outlines a proposed systematic review that will identify genetic variants from genome-wide association studies associated with cannabis use. Upon completion, this systematic review will summarize the current literature and inform further investigation of genetic variants associated with cannabis use.

Alannah Hillmer, Caroul Chawar, Stephanie Sanger, Alessia D’Elia, Mehreen Butt, Raveena Kapoor, Flavio Kapczinski, Guillaume Pare, Lehana Thabane, Zainab Samaan

National suicide management guidelines with family as an intervention and suicide mortality rates: a systematic review protocol

Balpreet Panesar, Divya Soni, Mohammed I Khan, Faris Bdair, Matthew Holek, Talha Tahir, Julia Woo, Nonhlanhla Khumalo, Lehana Thabane, Zainab Samaan

Several countries have developed national suicide guidelines aimed at raising awareness of and preventing deaths by suicide. Strategies mentioned in these national guidelines include the involvement of family members in suicide prevention and interventions. However, the level or type of family involvement required to reduce suicidal behaviour is not well understood. Thus, this protocol outlines the process by which we will compare suicide mortality rates between countries whose national suicide guidelines include family-based interventions with those whose do not.


Association between vaping and health outcomes in patients with opioid use disorder: A systematic review protocol

Nitika Sanger, Alessia D'Elia, Stephanie Sanger, Tea Rosic, M Constantine Samaan, Flávio Kapczinski, Russell J de Souza, Lehana Thabane, Zainab Samaan


Treatment Outcomes in Patients With Opioid Use Disorder Who Were First Introduced to Opioids by Prescription: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

This systematic review investigates the association between source of first opioid introduction and treatment outcomes. This study shows that the first exposure to opioids influences prognosis and treatment outcomes of opioid use disorder. Patients introduced through prescription were found to be less likely to continue to use illicit drugs, and have clinical profiles that need be considered when selecting forms of  treatment.

Feasibility of behavioral activation group therapy in reducing depressive symptoms and improving quality of life in patients with depression: the BRAVE pilot trial

Alessia D’Elia, Monica Bawor, Brittany B. Dennis, Meha Bhatt, Kathryn Litke, Kathleen McCabe, Jeff Whattam, Laura Garrick, Laura O’Neill, Scott Simons, Sandra Chalmers, Brenda Key, Stefanie Goyert, Phillip Laplante, Meredith Vanstone, Feng Xie, Gordon Guyatt, Lehana Thabane, Zainab Samaan

Published in Pilot and Feasibility Studies, this pilot paper investigates the feasibility of a main trial to test the effects of behavioural activation treatment for depression. Measuring feasibility in terms of enrolment, study completion rates and completion rates of weekly instruments, we report the potential feasibility of a larger scale trial upon modifications to the control group. We discuss our proposed methods for improving retention, and report preliminary exploratory analysis of clinical scales. 

The impact of chronic liver disease in patients receiving active pharmacological therapy for opioid use disorder: One-year findings from a prospective cohort study

Published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence, this study investigates the prevalence of chronic liver disease (CLD) in patients on methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) for opioid use disorder, and aims to assess whether the presence of this condition is associated with poor treatment outcomes. Not only was this condition present in a quarter of patients on MMT, but CLD is also associated with high-risk opioid consumption behaviours. CLD poses a risk for OUD patients, suggesting the need for closer drug monitoring, and contingency management to reduce mortality risk in these patients.


The association between health conditions and cannabis use in patients with opioid use disorder receiving methadone maintenance treatment

The recent legalization of cannabis products in Canada tasks researchers with the responsibility of determining its effects, particularly in vulnerable populations. This study investigates cannabis use in a population of individuals with opioid use disorder (OUD) currently seeking treatment, and aims to assess the health status of those who report cannabis use. It was found that OUD patients with cannabis use were more likely to have comorbidities such as concurrent anxiety disorders and alcohol use. These results suggest that advanced screening for cannabis use would be helpful in order to help better address the treatment needs of OUD patients with cannabis use. 

Adverse outcomes associated with prescription opioids for acute low back pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Published in Pain Physician, this systematic review examined published literature to assess adverse outcomes of opioid prescriptions for acute low back pain. This analysis suggested that being prescribed opioids for acute low back pain was associated with long-term opioid use. The limited literature pertaining to long-term outcomes prevented definitive conclusions from being made about the consequences of opioid prescribing fro acute low back pain. 

For a full list of publications, follow this link: 

bottom of page