Photo of 2 Psychiatry chairs - Dr. Robert Maunder and Dr. Jonathan Hunter

Two Sinai Health psychiatrists have been appointed Chairs with a focus on improving care by integrating expertise from psychiatry into the mainstream practice of medicine.  “I believe that these two appointments speak to our academic leadership in this field and will continue to reinforce our commitment to providing mental health informed care in every area of our hospitals,” said Dr. Lesley Wiesenfeld, Psychiatrist-in-Chief. “Dr. Robert Maunder, our inaugural Chair in Health and Behaviour, and Dr. Jonathan Hunter, our Pencer Chair in Applied General Psychiatry have had a long-time, synergistic professional alliance, but these Chairs have very distinct mandates, which I believe will help strengthen care at Sinai Health and throughout our health-care system as we care for increasingly complex patients.”

Dr. Robert Maunder announced as Inaugural Chair in Health and Behaviour

A vocal advocate for ensuring health-care workers recognize the impact of a patient’s history of trauma and other adverse experiences on their treatment, Dr. Maunder’s research will focus on three main areas:

  • Patient Centred Care: develop strategies to assess patient needs and strengths, and improve the relationship between clinicians and patients to optimize patient outcomes.
  • Strengthen support for health-care workers, recognizing that stress can adversely affect decision-making.
  • Shape public policy with a focus on disease prevention. Recognizing that childhood adversity and other social determinants of health increases the risk of developing many chronic conditions, Dr. Maunder will engage researchers, teachers and advocates to work towards reducing risk.

“I am grateful for this opportunity, and for the donors who generously came together to fund this important new Chair.  I believe that this work will help to shape a more holistic, person-centred approach to care,” said Dr. Maunder.

The new Chair in Health and Behaviour is jointly supported by Sinai Health System and the University of Toronto Department of Psychiatry, in collaboration with the Medical Psychiatry Alliance.

Dr. Jonathan Hunter named Pencer Chair in Applied General Psychiatry

With an increasingly complex patient population, the health-care system needs to find ways for providing more individualized care for patients who are often managing multiple chronic conditions. Dr. Jonathan Hunter’s expertise and research on the relationship between clinician and patient has shown that altering the assumptions and interactions of that traditional relationship can improve patient outcomes.  “Given that our health-care system is so siloed into areas of care – one patient may be trying to navigate four or five different specialty clinics…cardiology, diabetes,  ophthalmology, musculoskeletal  – without ever having a conversation with anyone about their health priorities, values and obstacles to care,” explains Dr. Hunter. “We aim to improve outcomes – reduction of length of stay, readmission and dramatically improve patient satisfaction if we can make changes to the relationship between clinician and patient.” Some of the clinician interventions that are known to impact outcomes include:

  • Availability, empathy, responsiveness, rapport, and competence in caring for the patient
  • Clinician understanding the patient’s willingness to engage in behaviours beneficial to their health
  • Understanding the patient’s priorities, and where they would like the emphasis of their care to be focused.

“I am looking forward to working with colleagues throughout Sinai Health to consider how we can implement evidence-based practices to optimize our relationships with patients, and ultimately, improve their experience and outcomes,” said Dr. Hunter.

Learn more about the collaboration between Dr. Maunder and Dr. Hunter here.