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Phyllis Zelkowitz, PhD

Phyllis Zelkowitz, Ed.D., is Research Director in the Department of Psychiatry at the Jewish General Hospital, and an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, McGill University. She serves as Chair of the Science Committee of the Jewish General Hospital Research Ethics Committee. Dr. Zelkowitz received a B.A. (Honours) in Psychology from McGill University, and an M.A. in Educational Psychology from the University of Toronto. She obtained her doctorate in Human Development at Harvard University.

Her research interests are in the field of perinatal mental health, incorporating individual, contextual, and cultural factors. For example, her research on parental adjustment to the birth of a very low birthweight infant examined individual characteristics of the parents (such as anxiety and feelings of competence), contextual variables (such as social support and the marital relationship), and cultural factors related to parenting attitudes and behavior.  She has also studied postpartum depression in native born and immigrant women, and risk factors for borderline pathology in mothers and children. Dr. Zelkowitz received a CIHR Emerging Team Grant in Perinatal Mental Health. This 5 year grant funded a research program combining multiple methods in the study of perinatal mental illness, linking adverse life circumstances, hormonal and physiological risk factors to maternal mental health problems, which in turn may affect the mother-infant relationship. Other ongoing research involves an examination of the social context and psychological distress in couples seeking assisted reproductive technology services. This research included a demographic survey of patients seeking fertility treatment at two Montreal-area clinics, in order to determine whether there have been changes in the sociodemographic profile of the patient population in the wake of the extension of provincial health care coverage for in vitro fertilization. She published the first data showing that public funding for in vitro fertilization in Quebec has afforded access to treatment in previously underserved patient groups. She has recently been awarded a 5-year team grant to develop mobile health interventions for men with fertility concerns, either with their partners or as a result of cancer and its treatment.

Selected Articles

Gureje, O., Oladeji, B.D., Araya, R., Montgomery, A.A., Kola, L., Kirmayer, L., Zelkowitz, P., Groleau, D. (2015). Expanding care for perinatal women with depression (EXPONATE): Study protocol for a randomized controlled trial of an intervention package for perinatal depression in primary care. BMC Psychiatry, 15 (1), art. no. 136.

Zelkowitz, P., King, L., Whitley, R., Tulandi, T., Ells, C., Feeley, N., Gold, I., Rosberger, Z., Chan, P., Bond, S., Mahutte, N., Ouhilal, S., Holzer, H. (2015). A comparison of immigrant and Canadian-born patients seeking fertility treatment. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, 17, pp. 1033-1040.

Samuel, S., Hayton, B., Gold, I., Feeley, N., Carter, C. S., & Zelkowitz, P. (2015). Attachment security and recent stressful life events predict oxytocin levels: A pilot study of pregnant women with high levels of cumulative psychosocial adversity. Attachment & Human Development, 17, pp. 272-287.

Samuel, S., Hayton, B., Gold, I., Feeley, N., Carter, C. S., & Zelkowitz, P. (2015). Maternal mental health moderates the relationship between oxytocin and interactive behavior. Infant Mental Health Journal, 36 (4), pp. 415-426.

Habel, C., Feeley, N., Hayton, B., Bell, L., Zelkowitz, P. (2015). Causes of women's postpartum depression symptoms: men's and women's perceptions. Midwifery, 31 (7), pp. 728-734.

Read, S.C., Carrier, M.-E., Whitley, R., Gold, I., Tulandi, T., Zelkowitz, P. (2014). Complementary and alternative medicine use in infertility: Cultural and religious influences in a multicultural canadian setting. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 20 (9), pp. 686-692.

Zelkowitz, P., Gold, I., Feeley, N., Hayton, B., Carter, C. S., Tulandi, T., Abenhaim, H. A., & Levin, P. (2014). Psychosocial stress moderates the relationships between oxytocin, perinatal depression, and maternal behavior. Hormones and Behavior, 66 (2), pp. 351-360.

MacKinnon, A. L., Gold, I., Feeley, N., Hayton, B., Carter, C. S., & Zelkowitz, P. (2014). The role of oxytocin in mothers' theory of mind and interactive behavior during the perinatal period. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 48, pp. 52-63.

King, L., Tulandi, T., Whitley, R., Constantinescu, T., Ells, C., Zelkowitz, P. (2014). What’s the message? A content analysis of newspaper articles about assisted reproductive technology from 2005 to 2011.  Human Fertility, 17 (2), pp. 124-132.

Prevost, M., Carrier, M-E., Chowne, G., Zelkowitz, P., Joseph, L., Gold, I. (2014). The Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test: validation of a French version and exploration of cultural variations in a multi-ethnic city. Cognitive Neuropsychiatry, 19 (3), pp. 189-204.

Read, S. C., Carrier, M-E., Boucher, M-E., Whitley, R., Bond, S., Zelkowitz, P. (2014). Psychosocial services for couples in infertility treatment: what do couples really want? Patient Education and Counseling, 94, pp. 390-395.

Prevost, M., Zelkowitz, P., Tulandi, T., Hayton, B., Feeley, N., Carter, C.S., Joseph, L., Pournajafi-Nazarloo, H., Yong Ping, E., Abenhaim, H., Gold, I. (2014). Oxytocin in pregnancy and the postpartum: relations to labor and its management. Frontiers in Child Health and Human Development, doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2014.00001

Zelkowitz, P., Looper, K. J., Mustafa, S., & Purden, M. (2013). McGill Early Arthritis Research Group, Baron, M. Parenting disability, parenting stress and child behavior in early inflammatory arthritis. Chronic Diseases and Injuries in Canada, 33(2), 81-87.

Tulandi, T., King, L., & Zelkowitz, P. (May 2013). Public funding and access to IVF. New England Journal of Medicine, 368 (20), 1948-1949.

Feeley, N., Waitzer, E., Sherrard, K., Boisvert, L., & Zelkowitz, P. (Jan. 2013). Fathers' perceptions of the barriers and facilitators to their involvement with their newborn hospitalised in the neonatal intensive care unit. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 22 (3-4), 521-530.

Feeley, N., Zelkowitz, P., Shrier, I., Stremler, R., Westreich, R., Dunkley, D., Steele, R., Rosberger, Z., Lefebvre, F., & Papageorgiou, A. (June 2012). Follow-Up of the Cues and Care Trial: Mother and Infant Outcomes at 6 Months. Journal of Early Intervention, 34 (2), 65-81. 

Zelkowitz, P., & Papageorgiou, A. (2012). Easing maternal anxiety: An update. Women’s Health, 8, 205-213.

Sofronas, M., Feeley, N., Zelkowitz, P., & Sebbagh, M. (2011). Obstetric and neonatology nurses' attitudes, beliefs, and practices related to the management of symptoms of maternal depression. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 32, 735-744.

Zelkowitz, P., Feeley, N., Shrier, I., Stremler, R., Westreich, R., Dunkley, D., Steele, R., Rosberger, Z., Lefebvre, F., & Papageorgiou, A. (2011). The Cues and Care randomized controlled trial of a neonatal intensive care unit intervention: Effects on maternal psychological distress and mother-infant interaction. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 32, 591-599.    

Guzder, J., Bond, S., Rabiau, M., Zelkowitz, P., & Rohar, S. (2011). The relationship between alliance, attachment and outcome in a child multi-modal treatment population: Pilot study. Journal of the Canadian Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 20, 196-202.

Biskin, R. S., Paris, J., Raz, A., Renaud, J., & Zelkowitz, P. (2011). Outcomes in women diagnosed with borderline personality disorder in adolescence. Journal of the Canadian Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 20, 168-174.

Looper, K. J., Mustafa, S., Zelkowitz, P., Purden, M., & Baron, M. (2011).  History of depressive episodes as a risk factor for illness severity in early inflammatory arthritis. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 71, 28-31.

Zelkowitz, P., Na, S., Wang, T., Bardin, C., & Papageorgiou, A. (2011). Early maternal anxiety predicts cognitive and behavioural outcomes of VLBW children at 24 months corrected age. Acta Paediatrica, 100, 700-704.

Feeley, N., Zelkowitz, P., Charbonneau, L., Cormier, C., Lacroix, A., & Papageorgiou, A. (2011). Post-traumatic stress among mothers of very-low-birthweight infants 6 months after discharge from the NICU. Applied Nursing Research, 24, 114-117.

Groleau, D., Zelkowitz, P., & Cabral, I. (2009). Enhancing generalizability: Moving from an intimate to a political voice. Qualitative Health Research, 19, 416-426.

Zelkowitz, P., Papageorgiou, A., Bardin,C., & Wang, T. (2009). Persistent maternal anxiety affects the interaction between mothers and their very low birthweight infants at 24 months. Early Human Development, 85, 51-58

Feeley, N., Zelkowitz, P., Charbonneau, L., Cormier, C., Lacroix, A., Ste Marie, C. & Papageorgiou, A. (2008). Promoting mothers’ ability to interact sensitively with their very-low birthweight infant: A pilot study.  Advances in Neonatal Care, 8, 276-284.

Zelkowitz, P., Feeley, N., Shrier, I., Stremler, R., Westreich, R., Dunkley, R., Steele, R., Rosberger, Z., Lefebvre, F., & Papageorgiou, A. (2008). The Cues and Care Trial: A randomized controlled trial of an intervention to reduce maternal anxiety and improve developmental outcomes in very low birthweight infants. BMC Pediatrics, 8: 38.

Zelkowitz, P., Saucier, J-F., Wang, T., Katofsky, L., Valenzuela, M., Westreich, R. (2008). Stability and change in depressive symptoms from pregnancy to two months postpartum in childbearing immigrant women. Archives of Women’s Mental Health, 11, 1 -11.

Zelkowitz, P. (2007). La santé mentale des immigrantes enceintes. Psychologie Québec, 24(3), 22-23.

Zelkowitz, P., Schinazi, J., Katofsky, L., Saucier, J-F., Valenzuela, M., Westreich, R., & Dayan, J. (2004).  Factors associated with depression in pregnant immigrant women. Transcultural Psychiatry, 41,445-464