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Quality research for quality health care

McMaster the most successful Ontario institution with more than $13M awarded from the Health System Research Fund
Quality research for quality health care

Jim Dunn has received one of four grants from the MOHLTC. His $1.9M award will address crucial gaps in the research base on built environments.

Danelle D’Alvise
Research Communications


Ontario’s Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) has invested more than $13M in four McMaster-led research projects to ensure the delivery of quality health care for all Ontarians.

McMaster’s health care expertise has been recognized in areas that range from policy to practice, child mental health to optimal aging, and to studying our built environments to improve the well-being of our most vulnerable populations. 

“The province of Ontario is proud to support the important and innovative research happening at McMaster,” said Ted McMeekin, MPP for Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale, in making the announcement on behalf of the Ontario government. “I’m very pleased that McMaster’s long commitment to excellence in health care research is recognized in this important way.”

The Health System Research Fund competition initially received more than 200 applications to fund policy relevant research, with only eleven applications chosen for funding.

McMaster researchers were awarded the lead on four projects and co-lead on one other, making the university the most successful Ontario institution in the Health Research Fund competition.

Mo Elbestawi, McMaster’s vice-president, research and international affairs, welcomed the announcement, saying: “Health research innovation has long been a hallmark of the work we do at McMaster. “Maintaining a high performing health system requires researchers at the forefront of knowledge translation and exchange to provide comprehensive, sustainable solutions. It’s no wonder that the provincial government has chosen our University to lead four of the eleven projects chosen for funding.”

The four research teams will examine and address issues that are a high-priority for the Ministry and for Ontario’s citizens, by mining the opinions, experiences, behaviours and perceptions of thousands of individuals, groups and families: how do we move care from hospitals to the community? Are the mental health needs of our children and adolescents being met? What’s the best built environment for those facing health and special needs challenges? How do family caregivers and health care providers support older adults with chronic disease?

These researchers will ensure that the right evidence gets to the right policy makers and stakeholders at the right time:

  • Dr. John Lavis, director of the McMaster Health Forum and Jeremiah Hurley, professor and chair of economics are Harnessing Evidence and Values for Health System Excellence. The $4,961,963 they have been awarded will be used to tackle the challenge of integrating research evidence with values information. Their research team will analyze the effectiveness and efficiency of current and proposed policies while identifying what matters most to Ontario's citizens, patients, and care-givers. Their research program will broaden the evidence base for health policy in our province, resulting in policies that are both more effective and more responsive, because they reflect what Ontarians care about.
  • Nursing professors  Jenny Ploeg and Maureen Markle-Reid, Canada Research Chair in Aging, Chronic Disease and Health Promotion Interventions, have been awarded $3,265,903 for a research program that will promote optimal aging at home for older adults with multiple (3 or more) chronic conditions (MCC). This complex population will be better understood – and better served – because of the vastly useful knowledge that will result from their Centre for Research in Community Interventions to Promote Optimal Aging at Home. The interdisciplinary team of researchers will design, evaluate, and translate new and innovative community-based interventions to reduce the burden of chronic disease for senior Ontarians. Advised by patients and families, and supported by decision makers, their research will help reduce or avoid unnecessary hospital and/or long-term care home admissions across the province.
  • It’s been 30 years since the Ontario Child Health Study (OCHS) was published, providing the basis for a number of initiatives and programs in support of children at risk. Two professors from the department of psychiatry and behavioural neurosciences, Michael Boyle, Canada Research Chair in the Social Determinants of Child Health, and Katholiki Georgiades, will lead the Ontario Child Health Study Sequel, a research program awarded $3M to provide urgently needed up-to-date information on the levels of child mental health need. The significant changes in the demographic composition of Ontario residents, and in the economic circumstances of the province since 1983, have increased the challenges faced by children and families. This study will examine the impact of these challenges on more than 10,000 Ontario children and adolescents aged 4-18 years from 180 neighbourhoods across the province. The research findings will be used to help set priorities for children’ mental health, and to inform new policies and programs to improve the health of our children.

  • Built environments – of physical surroundings and neighbourhoods, including the buildings, parks, schools, transportation and other infrastructure encountered in daily life – have been at the centre of potential policy innovations that propose less stress and better health for Ontario’s vulnerable and special health needs population if the built environments that they live in are improved.  Jim Dunn, associate professor, Department of Health, Aging and Society, will examine some of the common proposed solutions, and will address those crucial gaps in the research base on built environments through his research program Healthier Built Environments: an Opportunity for Innovation in Mental Health and Obesity Policy. Dunn will use his $1.9M grant to conduct new research on “walkable” communities, subsidized housing and concentrated poverty neighbourhoods and synthesize other research findings to create an integrated body of knowledge to guide policy in the province.

Yet another McMaster researcher – Lisa Dolovich, research director and associate professor, family medicine – will be leading a study on the effectiveness of provincial pharmacist-led medication programs with Nancy Waite, from the University of Waterloo’s School of Pharmacy. Their research team includes investigators from five universities – the Ontario Pharmacy Research Collaboration (OPEN) – whose $5.7M research program Fostering Innovation and Evaluating the Effectiveness of Ontario Pharmacist-led Medication Management Programs will assess existing programs such as MedsCheck, pharmacist-administered influenza vaccinations and evaluate new services to reduce inappropriate medication used in the elderly.