Ontario funds $13M in quality health care research at McMaster
Jenny Ploeg, left, professor in the School of Nursing and Maureen Markle-Reid, right, associate professor and Canada Research Chair in Aging, Chronic Disease and Health Promotion Interventions, have been awarded $3.3M for a research program that will promote optimal aging at home for older adults with multiple (3 or more) chronic conditions. They are one of four McMaster-led research projects being funded by Ontario’s Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to ensure the delivery of quality health care for all Ontarians.
Ontario’s Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care has invested more than $13M in four McMaster-led research projects to ensure the delivery of quality health care for all Ontarians.
The funding recognizes McMaster’s health care expertise in areas that range from policy to practice, child mental health to optimal aging, and to studying the built environments to improve the well-being of the 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 MOHLTC and for Ontario’s citizens, with research to answer questions including: 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?
The projects are:
- John Lavis, professor and director of the McMaster Health Forum and Jeremiah Hurley, professor and chair of economics are Harnessing Evidence and Values for Health System Excellence. The $5M 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.
- Maureen Markle-Reid, Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair in Aging, Chronic Disease and Health Promotion Interventions and Jenny Ploeg, Professor, School of Nursing, have been awarded $3.3M for a research program that will promote optimal aging at home for older adults with multiple (3 or more) chronic conditions. This complex population will be better understood – and better served – because of the vastly useful knowledge that will result from their Aging, Community and Health Research Unit. 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 and their family caregivers. 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. The professors, who lead research teams of the Offord Centre for Child Studies at Hamilton Health Sciences and McMaster University, were 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 four to 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 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.
Besides these four grants, McMaster researcher Lisa Dolovich, research director and associate professor, family medicine, will be leading a program on the effectiveness of provincial pharmacist-led medication programs with Nancy Waite from the University of Waterloo’s School of Pharmacy.
As nearly two-thirds of seniors use five or more types of prescription drugs, pharmacists are uniquely positioned within the health care system to apply their drug therapy expertise as part of the interprofessional health care team. The 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 professional pharmacist services such as MedsCheck, pharmacist-administered influenza vaccinations and evaluate new services to reduce inappropriate medication used in the elderly.