Accessibility Skip to Global Navigation Skip to Local Navigation Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Site Map Menu

Clinical Research Unit (Mental Health)

The Clinical Research Unit (Mental Health) is located in the University Department of Psychological Medicine at Terrace House, and is a joint unit of the University Department and the Specialist Mental Health Division of the Canterbury District Health Board.

Staff working on Clinical Research Unit (Mental Health) projects include consultant psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, social workers, psychiatric and research nurses. Clinical staff are well supported by reception, secretarial, administrative and research staff.


The Clinical Research Unit (Mental Health) continues to be involved with a platform of research related to improving current treatments of serious mental disorders.

This has primarily involved conducting randomised controlled medication trials and comparative psychotherapy trials.

Research themes include

  • Examining the influence of genetics
  • Brain imaging and neuropsychological functioning
  • Personality functioning
  • Thinking styles
  • The psychobiology of conditions
  • Therapy-related factors in relation to the effectiveness of treatments

Our research team have expertise in quantitative and qualitative research methods.

Current studies

Mood disorders

  • Interpersonal social rhythms therapy for people with bipolar disorder (still recruiting)
  • Cognitive remediation in those with recurrent mood disorders (still recruiting)
  • Behavioural and cognitive activation in inpatients with depression

Earthquake-trauma research

  • An fMRI study of those with earthquake related PTSD (still recruiting)
  • Metacognitive therapy vs. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for earthquake related stress (still recruiting)

Past treatment trials and related research

Earthquake-trauma research

  • Evaluation of the Adult Specialty Service Earthquake-related treatment team (ASSETT) intervention for earthquake-related distress, and factors related to recovery
  • Narratives of earthquake experience and post-earthquake stressors in those with PTSD

Psychotherapies for depression

  • Cognitive Behaviour Therapy vs. Interpersonal Psychotherapy
  • Cognitive Behaviour Therapy vs Schema therapy
  • Cognitive Behaviour Therapy vs Metacognitive therapy

Psychotherapies for young people with bipolar disorder

  • Interpersonal social rhythms therapy vs. Supportive Clinical Management for bipolar disorder

Psychotherapies for eating disorders

  • Dismantling study of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for bulimia nervosa
  • Cognitive Behaviour Therapy vs. Interpersonal Psychotherapy vs Specialist Supportive Clinical Management (SSCM) for anorexia nervosa
  • Cognitive Behaviour Therapy vs. Schema Therapy vs Appetite-Focussed Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for binge eating disorders (bulimia nervosa or binge eating disorder)

Antidepressant medications

  • Desipramine vs Imipramine for depression
  • Fluoxetine vs Nortripyline for depression

Other research

Clinical Research Unit (Mental Health) staff have research collaborations with other CDHB mental health services and with other collaborators locally, nationally and internationally.

Through the University of Otago, Christchurch, our research capacity is assisted by postgraduate students and post-doctoral fellows working on aspects of these projects.

Clinical Research Advisory Group

This group consists of representatives from Specialist Mental Health Services, Te Korowai Atawhai, Family and Consumer representatives.

It provides advice to Clinical Research Unit (Mental Health) researchers regarding proposed projects and liaises with stakeholders within the CDHB.

Clinical Research newsletter

Further information

Tel 64 3 372 6700
Fax 64 3 372 0405