Chris Richardson

Prospective Graduate Students / Postdocs

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Associate Professor

Research Classification

Mental Health and Psychopathology in Children and Youth

Research Interests

adolescent health
Substance Use
psycho-social functioning
Program evaluation

Relevant Degree Programs


Research Methodology

latent variable modeling
Program evaluation

Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision (Jan 2008 - May 2019)
Developmental growth patterns of Canadian children and the effect of the neighbourhood environment on growth (2014)

Background: Efforts are needed to identify individuals at risk of becoming obese to facilitate the development and implementation of targeted prevention strategies. The objective of this dissertation was to identify the developmental trajectories of body mass index (BMI) among children as they age into adulthood and examine how the neighbourhood environment influences childhood obesity rates and BMI development. Methods: Data from Canada’s National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth was used for this dissertation. Group based trajectory modeling was used to examine eight waves (14 years) of data to identify distinct trajectories of BMI. Neighbourhood types were defined by grouping neighbourhoods with similar attributes using latent class analysis. A mediation analysis was then conducted to assess the mediating role of physical activity and sedentary behaviour on the cross-sectional relationship between neighbourhood type and obesity. The relationship between neighbourhood type and obesity was examined longitudinally using both variable- and person-centred approaches.Results: This study identified four distinct BMI trajectories among children: low, decreasing, medium, and high. Born large for gestational age, living in a rural area, and maternal smoking were associated with the high trajectory. Children were found to live within one of five neighbourhood types. Compared with children living in an affluent urban type neighbourhood, higher rates of obesity were observed in the remaining four neighbourhood types. Physical activity and sedentary behaviour were found to partially mediate the relationship between neighbourhood type and obesity; however, not among children living in predominantly rural neighbourhoods. Children living in predominantly rural neighbourhoods were found to have a significantly higher BMI trajectory and were more likely to be on a BMI trajectory leading to obesity by adulthood.Conclusions: This dissertation identified children at risk of becoming obese by adulthood and neighbourhood types that are most conducive of children developing obesity. The results suggest that prevention efforts should be targeted to children living in rural areas and that these efforts should differ from those applied in urban settings. Physical activity explains a small proportion of obesity risk suggesting that other factors (e.g., diet) may play an important role in obesity risk associated with neighbourhood factors.

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Master's Student Supervision (2010 - 2018)
Exploring the relationship between cannabis use expectancies and the initiation of cannabis use among Canadian adolescents (2017)

BACKGROUND: Canada has one of the highest reported rates of adolescent cannabis use among industrialized countries and plans to legalize recreational cannabis use for adults. However, research suggesting that cannabis use during adolescence may be associated with health risks has led to a call for monitoring the impact of legalization on use by adolescents. Based on evidence that identifies outcome expectancies (expectations regarding the effect of substance use) and intention to use as significant predictors of tobacco smoking and alcohol drinking among adolescence, monitoring efforts associated with the upcoming cannabis regulation may benefit from the use of similar predictors.OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to examine the validity of the Marijuana Effect Expectancy Questionnaire-Brief (MEEQ-B) as a measure of cannabis use expectancies and then examine the relationship between expectancies and the intention to use cannabis, as well as their predictive utility as indicators of future cannabis use.METHODS: Data were collected from 1592 high school students aged 14-16 years participating in British Columbia Adolescent Substance Use Survey during the 2011/2012 school year. Confirmatory factor analysis was conducted to evaluate the psychometric structure of the MEEQ-B, and generalized estimating equation (GEE) using logit link was used to examine the relationship between expectancies, intention to try, and initiation and lifetime use of cannabis.RESULTS: The initial two-factor structure of MEEQ-B did not provide a good fit to the data. However, cross-loading item 6 onto both positive and negative expectancies factors resulted in a good fit. After controlling for gender, ethnicity, age, and socio-economic status, results of the GEE indicated that positive expectancies were significantly and positively associated with lifetime cannabis use (AOR: 2.47), and initiation of cannabis within six months (AOR: 1.9), whereas the reverse trend was found for negative expectancies. Having at least some intention to try cannabis increased the odds of cannabis initiation by seven times (AOR: 6.91).CONCLUSION: Revision to the MEEQ-B questions is needed to reliably measure expectancies related to adolescent cannabis use. In support of Integrative Model of Behavioral Prediction, expectancies and intention to use can be utilized as upstream indicators for future cannabis initiation.

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Examining the relationship between attachment style and resilience during adolescence (2014)

Introduction: Although research indicates that attachment should theoretically play a critical role in determining how youth mobilize social resources in response to experiences of distress, few researchers have integrated the perspective of attachment styles in studies investigating the development and promotion of resilience in adolescents. Knowledge of the processes underlying the ways and extent to which youth seek support to cope with stressful events may be improved by examining the distribution and stability of specific attachment styles and their relationship with resilience.Objectives: In a representative population of adolescents, the two primary objectives of this study are to: i) Quantify the distribution of attachment styles and their stability over a six (6) month period in a large sample of the general population ; and ii) Examine the relationship between attachment styles and levels of resilience. Methods: The data (n=1038) used for this study was obtained from Waves 6 and 7 of the British Columbia Adolescent Substance Use Survey (BASUS), a prospective cohort study of youth aged 14 to 15 years enrolled in a public secondary schools across British Columbia. Measures included were the Relationship Questionnaire developed by Bartholomew and Horowitz (1991), the 14-Item Resilience Scale (RS) developed by Wagnild and Young (1993), and sociodemographic factors (e.g. gender, socioeconomic status, and ethnicity). Results: At baseline, secure youth made up 46% of the entire Wave 6 sample (n=692). From the 818 youth with insecure attachment styles at Wave 6, forty-four percent (n=346) were fearful, 39% (n=317) were dismissing, and 19% (n=155) were preoccupied. For youth with secure attachment at Wave 6, approximately sixty percent retained the same classification in Wave 7. Findings indicate resiliency was significantly associated with attachment style (p
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The relationship between personality- and affect-related traits, gender and intention to try smoking (2013)

BACKGROUND: Of the many psychosocial factorsshown to beassociated with an increasedrisk of becoming a smoker, intentions to try smoking represent one of the strongest predictors offuture tobacco use. Although a great deal of research has been done to identify potentialdeterminants of tobacco smoking, very little research has examined the extent to which knownrisk factors for tobacco smoking are related to tobacco use intentions in adolescents who haveyet to try tobacco smoking. The goal of this investigationwasto examine the relationshipsbetween personalityand affect-related risk factors for smoking, as measured by the SubstanceUse Risk Profile Scale (SURPS), and smoking intentions in a cohort of adolescents whohadnotyet experimented with tobacco smoking. As part of this investigation, the impact of gender onthe measurement of these personality traits and the assessment of their relationships withsmoking intentions will be examined.METHODS:Study Population:Cross-sectionaldata provided by Grade 8 and 9 studentsparticipating in the British Columbia Adolescent Substance Use Survey, captured in the fall of2010 (N=1352). SURPS:The 23-item versionwasused to measure 4 dimensions:AnxietySensitivity, Hopelessness,ImpulsivityandSensation Seeking.Gender-Based MeasurementInvariance:Multi-group structural equation modelling, using M-Plus 6.12, will be used to assessmeasurementinvariance by gender for each of thefourSURPS dimensions.Personality andIntention to Smoke:Generalized Estimating Equationswasused to examine the relationshipbetween each SURPS dimension and intention to try cigarettes in the future.Effect of Gender:Interactions between gender and each SURPS constructwas alsoexamined.RESULTS:Gender-based Measurement Invariance:Measurement invariancebygender wasdemonstrated for the SURPS.Associations withintention to try smoking:Hopelessness,Sensation SeekingandImpulsivitywere found tobe positivelyassociatedwith intention to trycigarettes in the future among participants who indicated they had never tried smoking acigarette product (“even a puff or two”).The SURPS dimensions did notsignificantly interactwith gender.CONCLUSION: These results suggest thatcharacteristics related to impulsivity, sensationseeking andhopelessness are positively associated withthe intentiontotry smoking.

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