Department’s research interests/direction

In the past, the department had led a sizable study on antenatal depression, an evaluation of psychiatric consultation service at government primary care health clinics, and clinical audit of health parameter monitoring among patients on antipsychotics at Hospital Pulau Pinang. In addition to clinical studies, the department has conducted qualitative studies on medical student experiences and recruitment into psychiatry.

Based on the departmental and institutional expertise, we aim to continue and expand our research endeavors in the following areas:

1. Prof. Vincent Russell (Head of Department, 2012-2015) brought the psychiatry – general practitioner shared care model from Canada, establishing the only ongoing clinical partnership in government health clinics in Malaysia. The service has since been expanded under the leadership of Prof. Finian O’Brien (Head of Department, 2015-2020). To further promote this successful healthcare model across the country, objective information on its societal benefits must be obtained. We are continuing the pursuit on accumulating qualitative and quantitative evidence to support this collaborative practice approach.

2. RUMC is the coordinating site for Cochrane Malaysia. The launch of Cochrane Global Mental Health has provided an exciting platform for the enhancement of evidence-based support for mental healthcare professionals.
With the expertise of Cochrane members, we aim to work together in strengthening our outputs on psychopharmacology and psychotherapeutic research.

3. Neuroscience and neurodegeneration research remain the final frontiers of medical research. We are in collaborations with multiple centres to: i) decipher neurovascular dysfunction as an early culprit of dementing disorders and later-life depression; ii) examine the efficacy of neurostimulation in the treatment of behavioural symptoms of neurodegenerative disorders; iii) develop relevant biomarkers in detecting Alzheimer’s disease.

4. Previous studies have shown that Malaysia has a shortage of psychiatrists. The majority of students entering medical schools would not consider psychiatry as their eventual career. Many even have mythical and inaccurate perceptions towards the specialty. We have been conducting surveys in Asian medical schools to examine students’ experiences, with the ultimate goals in optimizing the undergraduate psychiatry curriculum and heightening of recruitment into postgraduate clinical training for the specialty.

5. A recently established collaboration to examine cognitive and mood statuses of the hilltribe population in rural Thailand.

List of on-going studies

Title of Study Principal Investigator Status (e.g. recruiting, follow-up, completed)
Efficacy of tDCS in treatment of psychotic BPSD ACK Law Funding allocated
Alzheimer’s disease epigenetics studies Hospital Kuala Lumpur Dept. of Psychiatry Sampling collecting
Perception of psychiatry as a career by medical students ACK Law Data collection completed