Associate Professor in the Department of Nursing
Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine, University of Alberta
University of Calgary
Faculty of Nursing
PF 2226, 2500 University Drive NW
Calgary AB T2N 1N4
Dr. Dawn Kingston is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Nursing at the University of Calgary. She is also the recipient of the Lois Hole Hospital for Women Cross-Provincial Chair in Perinatal Mental Health, funded by The Royal Alexandra Foundation, Edmonton Alberta; the Faculty of Nursing, University of Calgary; and the Alberta Children's Health Research Institute, Calgary, Alberta.
She and her team are passionate about helping women and their families have the best start to life by improving maternal mental health, especially during pregnancy. She holds a Professorship in Perinatal Mental Health and Child Well-being at the University of Calgary, as well as a national New Investigator Award from Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
Her research focuses on improving perinatal mental health as one of the strongest, modifiable influences of child mental health and development. She and her team develop and evaluate approaches for screening and treating women who struggle with depression and anxiety during pregnancy. They are leading the field in using e-technology for screening and therapy in pregnant women so that women can get help whenever they need it, wherever they are. Their nationally-funded trials are among the first to explore the clinical- and cost-effectiveness of e-screening and e-therapy on the mental health of pregnant women, and how this early intervention impacts the mental health, physical health, and development of their children. With over 1000 participants to date in these studies, pregnant women are receiving acceptable, appropriate and timely mental healthcare that they otherwise may not have accessed. As a part of their work, Dr. Kingston’s team also studies the personal and health system barriers that women and their partners experience in obtaining mental healthcare. This research has influenced Ontario’s screening and surveillance system and Alberta Health Services’ direction in standardizing mental health screening in Alberta. Dr. Kingston’s team is also conducting studies to understand the mental health state and needs of women and men undergoing infertility treatment – a highly under-serviced group. The team enjoys collaborating with other experts worldwide as it seeks to improve women’s mental health and children’s outcomes globally. Dr. Kingston also values her strong collaborations with Alberta’s only women’s hospital, the Lois Hole Hospital for Women, as she and her team implement and evaluate “scaled up” e-screening and e-therapy interventions in acute care areas, including the high risk antenatal unit, the postpartum units, and the regional infertility clinic. These acute care settings are Canada’s first to employ routine mental health screening and treatment.
Dr. Kingston’s work also aims to understand the consequences of early adverse childhood experiences, particularly poor perinatal mental health, on child mental health and development. She is lead of the largest, most comprehensive study to date to understand resiliency in children. She and her team are seeking to answer the question of why some children are quite affected by early adversity (such as prenatal depression and anxiety, parental separation, bullying) and others are less so. With $2M recently awarded from Alberta Innovates-Health Solutions, Dr. Kingston’s team of 18 investigators across 5 laboratories and 3 universities will be the first to identify the genetic, epigenetic, and biological causes of child resiliency. This study will help us to develop interventions and support families to enhance their child’s resiliency so that their child can reach his/her full potential - physically, emotionally, and developmentally.
Dr. Kingston is also an investigator and executive member of the All Our Babies Cohort, a pregnancy cohort of over 3300 children and mothers. She and her team study the effect of early life influences – positive and negative - on long-term child mental and physical health and development in order to understand the best way of optimizing children’s future success.
Dr. Kingston is also a Co-Lead on Canada’s first national guideline in perinatal mental healthcare. In collaboration with the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada, the Canadian Psychiatric Association, and the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians, this guideline will set Canada’s first standards of care for mental health screening and care of pregnant and postpartum women.