Welcome to the Intersections of Mental Health Perspectives in Addictions Research Training (IMPART) program. IMPART was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, under their Strategic Training Initiative in Health Research between 2003 and 2015. IMPART was created to train new researchers- graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and clinician researchers- to conduct research in women, gender and addictions, with a focus on the intersections of violence, trauma and mental health. The curriculum was framed by a transdisciplinary perspective with the aim of generating new and more complex approaches to addiction that included knowledge from cell to society. Given its innovative approach to addiction research and education, IMPART was one of only 86 programs to gain funding in the initial competition in 2002 and one of only 36 original STIHR programs to receive renewal in 2009.
The IMPART program grew out of the recognition that addiction research was often conducted in a gender blind manner. Along with researchers in other fields, addiction research needs to consistently explore sex and gender differences in addictions research. Women and men often experience addiction alongside other social and health concerns including mental illness, trauma, violence and HIV/AIDS. Yet, research, clinical practice and policy often overlook these intersections and the resulting co-morbidities leaving substance abuse to be addressed in isolation of broader social and environmental determinants of health. However, women and men experience these issues differently and differentially due to both sex and gender related factors. Analyzing these sex and gender factors, along with a range of important intersecting issues such as trauma, mental health and violence, is crucial to our knowledge of the impact of substance use on human health, gender-specific treatment, services, and health policy.
Over the span of 12 years, IMPART established a highly successful Pan-Canadian program, training 87 new researchers using innovative curricula and web-based technologies that incorporated diverse research pillars (Population and Public Health, Health Systems and Services, Biomedical and Clinical) and bridged health sectors from research, treatment and policy. IMPART also involved 35 mentors and many community collaborators, all experts in addictions research, treatment, policy and education who led trainees in conducting research that reflects sex and gender, incorporates mixed methodologies and transdisciplinary perspectives.
IMPART has significantly increased the production of new knowledge about the complexities of addiction. Together, IMPART members have produced over 300 peer reviewed journal articles and conference presentations, an online course, and a book, Transforming Addiction: gender, trauma, transdisciplinarity (2015, Routledge).
IMPART has produced a strong community of experts in addictions research, practice and policy who can continue to lead Canada in conducting interdisciplinary research on sex and gender as well as integrating issues such as violence, trauma and mental health into addictions research and treatment.