Norbert Schmitz, PhD
Associate Professor of Psychiatry
Associate Member, Department of Epidemiology,
Biostatistics & Occupational Health
Norbert Schmitz is currently a researcher at the Douglas Mental
Health University Institute, an Associate Professor at the Department of Psychiatry
and an Associate Member of the Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics & Occupational
Health at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec. Prior to joining McGill University
in 2004, Dr Schmitz was an Assistant Professor at the Department of Psychosomatic
Medicine at Heinrich-Heine-University in Duesseldorf, Germany, and Director of the
Research Unit Public Mental Health. Dr Schmitz obtained his PhD in statistics from
the University of Dortmund (1995) and a second PhD in Epidemiology and Biostatistics
from Heinrich-Heine-University in Duesseldorf, Germany (2002). Dr Schmitz currently
holds a salary award from the Fonds de Recherche du Québec - Santé
(Chercheur-boursier Senior, 2008).
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Selected Scientific Contributions
The research of Dr Schmitz has added to our understanding of the
role of psychological and lifestyle/behavioral factors that contribute to poor
functioning and reduced health related quality of life in people with diabetes and
other chronic conditions. A recent focus has been on designing and conducting
longitudinal community studies as well as on risk factor analysis.
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Norbert Schmitz's research interests are in the areas of epidemiology
and biostatistics, including measurement methodology, outcome assessment, quality of
life research, interaction of physical and mental illness, and the evaluation of risk
factors for psychiatric-somatic co-morbidity. The lab's current research program is
focusing on three topics in mental health research:
1) Psychiatric-somatic comorbidity. The research
is concerned with the relationship between mental disorders and somatic chronic
conditions. The team is currently conducting three longitudinal community studies of
people with diabetes.
2) Psychiatric epidemiology. The researchers are
interested in depression and anxiety disorders in the community. The focus is on:
- Risk factors for mental disorders
- Association between depression and obesity
3) Measurement of health status. Development and
application of methods for the assessment of health status is another focus of interest.
This includes the evaluation of instruments as well as the development and application
of sophisticated psychometric methods to study health outcomes.
Montreal Diabetes Health and Well-Being Study (DHS).
The Montreal Diabetes Health and Well-Being Study is a telephone survey of the adult
population in Quebec, Canada. Participants with diabetes were recruited between
January 2008 and April 2008 through random selection of phone numbers (random digit
dialing, n=2003) and are assessed every year. The purpose of this longitudinal
project is to follow the course of diabetes in a community sample and to study the
incidence of and risk factors for depression and disability. Funding: CIHR 2007-2014.
Evaluation of Diabetes Treatment Study (EDIT). We
are interested in better understanding how diabetes affects people's lives and also
how treatment affects their lives in Quebec. In order to get the best representation
of how diabetes affects people in the general population we are conducting a study
where we randomly selected people who have type 2 diabetes in Quebec (n=2,500). The
goal of this study is to assess how diabetes affects people's health and well-being
in Quebec and to look more closely at the relationship between treatment, health
lifestyle and well-being over time. The results will help improve existing health
services in Quebec. Funding: CIHR 2010-2015.
Diabetes Neighborhood and Mental Health Study. The
aim of this study is to provide a better understanding of the complex relationship
between neighborhood environment, physical activity, diet, depression, disability
and quality of life in people with diabetes. We are interested in both, geographic
neighborhood information and perceived neighborhood characteristics. Funding:
Canadian Diabetes Association, 2010-2013.
Depression and obesity. The team is interested in
the longitudinal association between depression and obesity in the community. Using
data from the longitudinal Canadian National Population Health Survey (NPHS), we are
evaluating the temporal change in prevalence of obesity–depression comorbidity and
the longitudinal association from obesity to depression. Funding: CIHR, 2007-2010.
Psychiatric disorders and chronic conditions. The
aim of the project was to study the association between mental disorders, chronic
somatic conditions, and reduced functioning/disability in a representative Canadian
community sample. Using data from the Canadian Community and Health Survey, the team
compared the prevalence of functional disability in individuals with chronic medical
conditions and comorbid mental disorders in comparison to individuals with either
chronic medical conditions or mental disorders alone. Funding: CIHR, 2006-2008.