Hybrid Care for Pediatric Mental Health

Hybrid Care for Pediatric Mental Health

New tool brings patients, families and clinicians together in deciding best care model

A recent MSSU literature review will support the development of a new shared decision-making tool to help decide the best delivery of care for children and youth receiving mental health and addiction services at the IWK.

The evidence-based product, will be co-designed with patient partners, engages clients, their families and clinicians in deciding if virtual care is or isn’t appropriate for that individual. The research, commissioned by the IWK in Nova Scotia, was spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic and builds on the Virtual Care Together project across the province.

“This health systems and research partnership project is an IWK priority as we are actively working to operationalize a future state in which we provide hybrid care. We recognize that there are many factors to consider in the decision,” said Dr. Debbie Emberly, IWK, Lead Research, Evaluation and Outcomes.

It was important that the starting point for the product reflected the best evidence about the many factors that influence use of virtual care.

“The support of the MSSU has enabled our team to incorporate up-to-date best evidence in our research, supporting rigor in our development of a shared decision-making tool,” added Dr. Leslie Anne Campbell, Sobey Family Child & Adolescent Mental Health Outcomes Chair, Dalhousie University & Scientific Staff, IWK Health.

In March 2020 after a state of emergency was declared, all mental health and addictions outpatient and intensive services stopped in-person care and transitioned rapidly to virtual service delivery. The IWK are now currently offering both in person and virtual visits, and their vision is to seamlessly integrate virtual options to enhance the quality and accessibility of care for all children, youth, and families.

With the world focused on COVID-19 and the two-year pandemic, there was no shortage of literature for MSSU’s evidence synthesis coordinator Kristy Hancock and research assistant Holly Simpson to find and review. Hancock searched for research and existing shared decision-making tools using academic databases and search engines. She then screened hundreds of results at the title/abstract level. Simpson went on to read upwards of 40 full text journal articles and reports to summarize all relevant findings in a final report for the researchers.

“I’m very happy to be supporting projects that will go on to directly inform service planning. It’s really great to see people in decision-making roles looking to the evidence and wanting to base their service planning on best practices,” said Hancock.

For more information about this project, contact

Hybrid Care for Pediatric Mental Health