Honours Profile: Hillary Hamilton

Hillary Hamilton is a fourth-year psychology honours student working with Odette Gould. Her thesis is entitled “Mental health medication adherence in a Canadian undergraduate university population.”

Gould is a psychology professor who primarily researches adult development and aging. Her program, the Adult Development and Aging Research Program, has been in operation at Mount Allison since 2000. A project that Gould has undertaken in recent years involves medication adherence, which entails investigating how seniors remember to take their medications. Gould has also worked with patients at the Moncton Hospital to design a new test that pharmacists could use to help determine whether older patients can manage their medications independently.

Hamilton’s research is similar, but instead of studying medication adherence in older individuals, she is focusing on an undergraduate university sample.

“I’m glad that [Gould] is flexible enough to let me focus on an undergraduate sample for my research,” Hamilton said, adding that Gould’s knowledge on medication adherence from her previous research has proven invaluable.

Hamilton created a survey for students to take who have been treating depression, anxiety, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) for three months or longer. The survey aims to investigate the participants’ attitudes, beliefs, and how they’re able to manage their medications. By administering the survey, Hamilton hopes the paint a picture of the participants’ overall experience of taking medications in university, and answer questions regarding how often they are taken, why they choose not to take them, and whether participants have support from their family and peers.

To accompany the survey, Hamilton plans to conduct one-on-one interviews with participants as well. Through the use of interviews, Hamilton can collect other valuable information that is hard to determine from a survey. Interviews can also provide more internal validity.

“Surveys are great for yielding quantitative data,” Hamilton explains. “By conducting interviews, we can really dig deep into daily experiences and yield valuable qualitative data.”

By undertaking this project, Hamilton aims to provide information that could help researchers understand medication adherence in young adults and how to implement changes.

“From being a part of a university community, you can see that there are not enough resources [to help students in medication adherence], and that the age group is very vulnerable,” Hamilton said.

After completing her undergraduate degree, Hamilton hopes to continue her education in psychology by obtaining a master’s degree.

Hamilton is still looking for participants for her study. If you are an undergraduate student who has been treating depression, anxiety, or ADHD for three months or more, and wish to participate in this study, you can contact Hillary Hamilton at hahamilton@mta.ca.

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