University of Calgary

Researcher sheds light on how parenting works – or doesn’t

UToday HomeFebruary 27, 2013

By Karen Cook

Professor Nicole Letourneau will make a presentation on her Child Health Intervention and Longitudinal Development program on Friday, March 8, as part of the Eyes High on Research public lecture series.Professor Nicole Letourneau will make a presentation on her Child Health Intervention and Longitudinal Development program on Friday, March 8, as part of the Eyes High on Research public lecture series.The Faculty of Nursing’s Nicole Letourneau has a fascination for parenting – how it works, and how it doesn’t.

That interest in parenting has led her to study the science underlying child development and explore and test parent support interventions to promote healthy child development.

Letourneau, the Norlien/ACHF chair in parent-infant mental health, will discuss some of these interventions and the goals of her Child Health Intervention and Longitudinal Development (CHILD) program at a presentation on Friday, March 8, part of the Eyes High on Research public lecture series.

“The study of child development is not a homogeneous field; there are amazingly complex mechanisms at play during a child’s first critical years of life,” says Letourneau, who is also a member of the Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute (ACHRI) and research co-ordinator of RESOLVE (Research and Education for Solutions to Violence and Abuse) Alberta.

“My research examines the impact of many variables – including family violence, parental mental health, addictions and social supports – with a focus on the parent-infant/child relationships. We are not only seeking to improve the health of these at-risk children, but we also want to understand how psychosocial interventions function to improve social outcomes.”

Brent Scott, executive director of ACHRI, says Letourneau’s research interests bridge multiple faculties. “Her research is an example of the highest quality of community engaged scholarship,” he says.

A large part of Letourneau’s research is working in conjunction with community agencies and stakeholders to test new strategies to help stressed families. The MOMSLink program, for example, a phone support study for mothers with postpartum depression which Letourneau leads, has recently launched. “Disseminating knowledge about innovative parenting support interventions that promote vulnerable children’s development is key,” Letourneau says.

"Student interest in the series, particularly among grad students, has been very strong,” comments Adrienne Kertzer, advisor to the president on women’s issues. “This may be because, as the Council of Canadian Academies report Strengthening Canada's Research Capacity: The Gender Dimension noted, mentoring plays a role in the career trajectory and statistical profile of women researchers in Canadian universities. In celebrating what female research leaders have accomplished, the Eyes High on Research series not only mentors students; it also encourages all members of the university to see these women as role models.”

Letourneau’s lecture is the third of four in the Winter 2013 Eyes High on Research lecture series. It will be held from noon to 1 in ICT 516. Visit here for more information and to register for the public lectures.

 

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