Associate Professor in the Dept. of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences at McMaster University

Dr. Andrea Gonzalez received her PhD (2008) in Psychology and Neuroscience from the University of Toronto and completed her CIHR and Lawson Foundation funded postdoctoral fellowships at the Offord Centre for Child Studies (2012) under the mentorship of Drs. Harriet MacMillan and Michael Boyle.

Dr. Gonzalez is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences, with cross-appointments in the Department of Psychology, the Neuroscience Graduate Program, and the Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence and Impact at McMaster University. She is an Editorial Board Member for the journals Archives of Women’s Mental Health, Child Abuse & Neglect and Child Maltreatment and holds a Tier II Canada Research Chair in Family Health and Preventive Interventions. Dr. Gonzalez’ research program focuses on the developmental consequences of early life adversity; the impact of traumatic experience on brain development, behavioural outcomes and health; the intergenerational transmission of risk; and developing and evaluating evidence-based preventive interventions. Her previous training encompasses psychology, neuroscience and epidemiology with specific emphasis on assessing preventive interventions, stress physiology, parenting, and statistical modelling.

Current Activities

Some Active Research Projects:

Promoting Healthy Families: Promoting Healthy Families is a suite of studies funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada with the overall aim of improving parenting practices, parental functioning and overall child health and developmental outcomesThis program of work involves several studies, including a three-armed randomized controlled trial of the Triple P – Positive Parenting Program (Triple P) and Circle of Security Parenting Program (COSP), compared to treatment as usual for caregivers of children ages 2-6 yearsThe trial is complimented by a process evaluation and economic evaluationA second line of work involves a feasibility and acceptability study of the Parents Under Pressure program for high-risk pregnant and new parents (up to child aged 2 years)In each study, we have examined organizational and provider readiness and are following up our Health Equity impact Assessment with a community engagement study to better understand the barriers to services for racialized and refugee familiesCollectively this work will help us understand what programs are effective within a Canadian context and what works for whom and why.

The Healthy Foundations Study: The Healthy Foundations Study is an innovative birth cohort which will evaluate the impact of the NFP (Nurse Family Partnership) on biological outcomes of mothers and their infants. Starting in 2013, 400 pregnant mothers and their newborns were recruited from the British Columbia Healthy Connections Project—a randomized controlled trial of the NFP and will be followed to child aged 2 years. Women were recruited prior to 28 weeks’ gestation and then individually randomized to receive existing services (comparison group) or NFP plus existing services (intervention group). Hair samples were collected from mothers at baseline and 2 months post-partum to measure physiological stress. Saliva samples were collected from infants during all visits for analyses of stress function. Buccal swabs were collected from infants at 2 and 24 months to assess DNA methylation. Biological samples will be related to child outcome measures at age 2 years.

MIRA-iGeN: MIRA-iGeN is a proposed multi-phased, longitudinal, intergenerational cohort study which will serve as a data platform to enable multi-disciplinary teams to address a wide variety of research questions. Through extensive data collection, we will be able to investigate the interrelationships among biological, physical, social, lifestyle, psychological and behavioural domains, influencing health across the life course and generations. In designing a study to examine trajectories across generations, a secondary goal is to identify modifiable factors with the potential to inform the development, implementation, and evaluation of interventions to improve the health and well-being of individuals across multiple generations within this cohort.

The SafeCare Program: SafeCare is a brief, evidence-based behavioural parenting program that focuses on building parenting skills to address emotional, environmental, supervisory, and medical neglect, as well as decreasing physical abuse in families with children (aged newborn to 5 years). Over the course of this study, we will be working with three Ontario child welfare agencies (based in Hamilton, Niagara, Kenora) that currently have SafeCare providers already delivering the program. The overall purpose of the project is to implement the program within Ontario child welfare systems, and to evaluate its outcomes as well as mechanisms of change. Our purpose will be to determine: how SafeCare works to improve child and caregiver outcomes; what works, and for whom; which families experience improvements in both caregiver and child outcomes; the experiences of those families who improved; and rates of recidivism.


To read work from Dr. Andrea Gonzalez:

Andrea Gonzalez

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Research Interests

preventive interventions, child developmental outcomes, parenting processes

Education, Memberships, Certifications

MA, University of Toronto, PhD, University of Toronto

Additional Information


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