Research: Pilot Projects

Pilot Projects Year 2 (2005-2006)

These projects will help young investigators to establish bases to apply for bigger grants


Research title: Stress, Socioeconomic Status, and Cardiovascular Risk in Boys and Girls: A Feasibility Study of the Cortisol Awakening Response

Dr. Jennifer J. McGrath
Concordia University, Psychology Dept.
7141 Sherbrooke Street West, PY 139-3
Montreal, QC H4B 1R6

Dr. Jennifer O’Loughlin
Dr. Marie Lambert
Dr. Tracie Barnett

The objective of the proposed feasibility project is to gather preliminary data about stress and the awakening cortisol response in boys and girls to help better inform a CIHR grant application (September 2005), which will address whether stress underlies the association between socioeconomic status (SES) and cardiovascular risk in boys and girls. The aims of the proposed feasibility project are four-fold:

  1. To identify the number of salivary cortisol samples needed to reliably measure the awakening cortisol response (i.e., a physiological marker of stress) in boys and girls,
  2. To examine whether children are compliant with providing saliva samples within specified time windows (wake, +30 min, +45 min, +60 min), as timing is crucial for accurate measurement,
  3. To determine the feasibility of having children complete four days of saliva collection and return the samples with pre-paid envelopes, and
  4. To conduct exploratory analyses examining the correspondence between SES, stress, and cardiovascular risk in boys and girls.


  1. Reliable measurement of the awakening cortisol response will require 2 saliva samples (wake, + 45 min) taken on 3 days (similar to recommended protocols with adults).
  2. Children will be largely compliant (> 90%) with the salivary collection instructions.
  3. Return of the saliva samples with pre-paid envelopes will be an effective and efficient methodological strategy (>90% return rate).
  4. Exploratory analyses will demonstrate moderate relations between SES (parental income and education), stress (stressful life events, awakening cortisol response) and cardiovascular risk (blood pressure, body mass index, smoking, sedentary behavior, diet).


Research title: Exploring sex and gender determinants of venous thrombosis in Quebec men and women: preliminary evaluation of the validity of the RAMQ database for the diagnosis of venous thromboembolism

Dr. Vicky Tagalakis
Department of Medicine, Division of Internal Medicine
Centre for Clinical Epidemiology and Community Studies
Sir Mortimer B. Davis Jewish General Hospital
3755 Cote-Ste-Catherine Rd., Rm. A-131
Montréal, Québec, Canada H3T-1E2
Dr. Susan Kahn
Dr. Andrew Hirsch
Dr. Hani Tamimn

We will make use of RAMQ data that we already have on hand that was obtained for the VETO Study, a prospective cohort study of 359 patients with objectively verified DVT (see below):

  1. To describe the nature and comprehensiveness of available VTE-related information that is contained within the RAMQ database, including information on VTE-related outcomes such as recurrent VTE.
  2. To determine the positive predictive value (PPV) of the RAMQ database for the diagnosis of the DVT with and without PE.
  3. To compare patient characteristics between VETO patients whose VTE was captured by the RAMQ database and VETO patients whose VTE was not captured. The results of this pilot study will help to inform the design of our more comprehensive validation study of the RAMQ and Med-Echo databases for the diagnosis of VTE.

Our proposed pilot project will allow us to assess, in a preliminary fashion, the accuracy of the RAMQ medical services database for the diagnosis of VTE and will provide important VTE-related information to plan a future more complete validation study of both the RAMQ and Med-Echo databases, and eventually, a population-based prospective cohort study that uses these datasets to characterize sexand gender-related VTE determinants. Overall, our research program will help to optimize the diagnosis and management of VTE by addressing potential differences in the presentation and prognosis of VTE among men and women.