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Mental Health and Ageing

Research focused on public mental health and ageing within the Institute of Global Health (IGH), addresses the new challenges in the global health agenda. Mental diseases hold a prominent position in the classification of the burden of diseases worldwide, especially as psychiatric and neurological conditions increase with age. The main objective of the division is to gradually
 cover the whole field of Public Mental Health, from human rights, to psychiatric epidemiology - with inclusion of research on health services and health economy. Research is focused on to ageing
 and dementia, fragility in elderly people, life expectancy in good health, and mental health in elderly adults.

Other subjects will be developed, considering vulnerable populations requiring psychiatric healthcare in Geneva, and the priorities of the WHO Collaborating Centre (WHO CC) in Mental Health (migrants, patients with addiction issues, perinatal stress). The Departments of Mental Health and Psychiatry of the HUG, Department of Psychiatry of the University of Geneva Faculty of Medicine, and the IGH also created this division to cement the collaboration on teaching activities including post-graduate (the CAS run by Prof. Albanese, the Spring School of the IGH, the MAS in Global Health, and the Summer School in Global Health and Human Rights), and pre-graduate (AMC in social psychiatry; IMC; and the epidemiology modules) studies. The World Health Organisation Collaborative Centre (WHO CC) conducts and leads several research projects, policy, and global health activities in close collaboration with the department of mental health and substance abuse. Finally, there is also collaboration with other partners, particularly through the network of institutions of the Swiss School of Public Health (SSPH+), for both teaching (Winter School of Epidemiology; Summer School in Public Health Policy, Economics and Management), and research (PNR-74).

A wide range of doctoral projects are under way, spanning from psychosocial interventions in low and middle income countries, their efficacy and scalability, to the investigation of the actual magnitude of the dreadful mortality gap associated with mental disorders in Eastern Europe. Our PhD programs and projects are closely interlinked with the activities of the WHO CC and particularly with those of the WHO Department of mental health, where our PhD students work or consult part-time. This close collaboration is unique, a link between academia and WHO, the highest policy organisation in the world of global health. 



Global Mental Health

Excess body weight, obesity and dementia risk – a comprehensive meta- analysis and meta-regression of cohort and registry based prospective studies

In 2015/2016, Prof. Albanese con- ducted the most comprehensive meta-analysis so far on the topic. He designed innovative meta-regression methods to formally explore the sources of heterogeneity across the exist- ing epidemiological studies on the obesity to dementia relationship. This area of research has enormous clinical and public health implications in all world regions. This work was conducted in collaboration with Prof. Matthias Egger from the University of Bern, who, for the first time, allowed us to introduce advanced meta-analytical methods in the field of observational epidemiology applied to dementia.

Cultural adaptation of minimally guided interventions for common mental disorders: A systematic review and meta-analysis

We have conducted (and widely disseminated) a comprehensive systematic review, meta-analysis and meta-regression, to explore the relevance of cultural adaptation of mental health interventions. This work is part of Miss Harper’s PhD program at the UNIGE (i.e. GlobalHealth track), and is of great relevance for the implementation, and scaling up of the WHO mental health gap action program (mhGAP), dedicated to the field of mental health at WHO.

Psychiatric Epidemiology and Mental Health Service Research

Psychometrics analysis of the psy-bus (Bus Santé) data/project

‘Psy-bus’ is the Geneva-based psychiatric epidemiological study designed by Prof. J-M Aubry and Dr. I Guessous (HUG) embedded into the larger ‘Bus Santé’ study. Prof. Albanese is collaborating with Prof. Aubry, Dr. Guessous, and Dr. Helene Richard to conduct advanced psychometric analyses (including Factor analysis, Latent Class, IRT, Rasch models) exploiting this rich database. The project also aims to test relevant research and clinical hypotheses on the ground of an advanced validation of the assessment tools and research protocol. Scientific publications and SNF grants are foreseen.

 Global Dementia Research Priorities – a worldwide CHNRI Exercise

Prof. Albanese led and coordinated the adaptation of the CHNRI methodology to the field of dementia, and designed the CHNRI global survey, including: data collection, analysis and synthesis, and all related dissemination activities (i.e. WHO reports, and the Lancet Neurology main paper). Between 2015 and 2016, Prof. Albanese and the WHO have conducted an unprecedented global survey amongst dementia experts and stakeholders, to elicit relevant research questions/ topics, and to rank and prioritize the consolidated 59 research avenues across five criteria:

  1. Potential for success
  2. Impact on burden reduction
  3. Potential for conceptual breakthrough                                                                                                                                  
  4. Potential for translation                                                                                                                                   
  5. Equity

Based on these rankings, an overall research priority score was computed for each research avenue.


Emiliano Albanese