Best Practices / Research Oral Abstract

Combating the Stigma Related to Mental Illness: An e-Learning Best Practice for Physicians and Other Health Professionals (O009)

Thomas Ungar (University of Toronto/North York General Hospital); Rivian Weinerman (University of British Columbia/ Vancouver Island Health Authority); Robert Glynn (Memorial University); Lisa Fleet (Memorial University) 


To highlight a nationally accredited e-learning module in Canada educating physicians and other health professionals about the attitudes and behaviours which can lead to stigma towards their patients with mental illness.


Multimedia and instructional design approaches (i.e. a real-life scenario involving self-reflection, video, didactic content, and cases). Assessment includes a pre/post attitudinal instrument, self-test questions, and participant satisfaction survey.


Few Canadian clinical practice guidelines exist in this area. It is suggested that awareness of this issue must be raised amongst physicians and other health professionals. Participation and evaluation data will be examined. The authors suggest that the data will show a shift in participants’ attitudes towards mental illness.


E-learning often focuses on increasing knowledge and performance in clinical areas. This module addresses a topic which receives little attention in the medical education continuum, with an overall objective of changing participants’ attitudes and behaviours. Providing this module via e-learning makes it accessible to health providers practicing in both urban and rural areas.

Future Directions

Evaluation will demonstrate that the philosophies and instructional design approach utilized for this module could be applied to other behavioural issues in health care, many of which have historically not been adequately taught in the medical education curriculum.


E-learning can be utilized to increase health professionals’ awareness (in urban and rural areas) regarding some behavioural issues in health care. This best practice highlights one example which aims to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness.

Funding Source

Mood Disorder Society of Canada.

Social Network Analysis

John Kues (University of Cincinnati); Maureen Doyle-Scharff (Pfizer); Jann Balmer (University of Virginia) 


As the importance of systems is recognized in healthcare delivery, the need to assess and change systems as part of continuous professional development is increasingly apparent. Integration of care is built around networks of providers with varying degrees of communication and influence. In order to include human systems and networks in performance improvement models it is critical that these systems be measurable. Effective tools for examining systems are required for both assessing and changing systems.


A sample of 25 participants and faculty from the 2011 Alliance Leadership Workshop listed individuals with whom they had worked in the past year. Snowball sampling was used to identify a second cohort who also identified collaborators. Organization type was also coded for each individual.


Social network analysis, using NodeXL, was conducted on the contacts from the initial sample of participants. It revealed 646 unique individuals and 1,339 connections. The average distance between any two individuals was 3.1 and the maximum distance was 5. Analyses are ongoing with the second dataset. Excluding the original 25 participants, an additional 10-15 individuals were identified as central to networks of CME professionals. Small constellations of key individuals were found to account for most of the connections in the overall network.


Social network analysis is an important tool for identifying key individuals within human systems and the overall organization of these systems. It can monitor planned system changes and can help inform the types of changes that are needed.