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News

// April 17, 2014

Connections is MSFHR's monthly e-newsletter. Each issue highlights the top MSFHR news from the past month and showcases the impact of research we've funded.

Join our mailing list to receive Connections by e-mail!


In this issue:

Feature

MSFHR News

Spark


Partner profile: Women's Health Research Institute

Since 2005, the Women's Health Research Institute (WHRI) has served as a vital catalyst for women-centred research throughout British Columbia. Based at BC Women's Hospital, WHRI supports research across all four CIHR pillars – biomedical, clinical, health services, and population health — with the goal of providing evidence to improve the health of women, their families, and their communities.


2014 MSFHR/CIHR Science Policy Fellows announced

Six BC-based health researchers will have the chance to gain real-world policy-making experience as recipients of 2014 MSFHR/CIHR Science Policy Fellowships.

The award recipients will be embedded in the BC Ministry of Health for between six and 12 months in a policy setting, where they will work as part of a policy team.


New resource to help nurses map their research careers

A new resource commissioned by MSFHR will help define how nurses move through their careers in developing knowledge, skills, and competencies related to research and research use.

The Health Services Researcher Pathway, developed through the BC Nursing Research Initiative, describes five distinct levels of nurses' research competency. The document is intended to support greater use of research at the point of care, where most nurses work.


May targeted for SPOR business plan submission

The business plan for BC's SPOR SUPPORT Unit has moved into the final stages of development.

A draft version of the plan was completed by the March 31 target date and shared with key stakeholders in the BC Ministry of Health. This draft was well received, and there is broad support for the emerging direction of BC's SPOR SUPPORT Unit. The business plan is currently undergoing final revisions in preparation for expected submission to CIHR in early May.

CIHR's iterative review process for business plan submissions is outlined here.

MSFHR is facilitating the development of BC's SPOR SUPPORT Unit on behalf of the BC Ministry of Health. For more information on this initiative, visit www.bcsupportunit.ca.


BC health research strategy moving into implementation

After 18 months of far-reaching consultation and significant environmental scanning, the BC health research strategy is finally complete. Work is underway to prepare the document for publication and communication to a broader audience.

The reference group has been engaged once again to offer their thoughts on how to implement the strategy and meetings are also underway with various stakeholder groups, including government, to get their "sign-on" to the BC health research strategy and find out how they want to be involved in implementation.

To support the transition from strategy development to implementation, the advisory board will meet one final time in mid-May to review implementation models and recommend who should be involved in providing leadership and guidance to the implementation process going forward.


MSFHR taking on project management of BCEHI

With the endorsement of the senior leaders of the partner organizations involved in the BC Ethics Harmonization Initiative (BCEHI), MSFHR is taking on project management of the initiative as it enters a new phase of development. The BCEHI is an MSFHR-facilitated and funded initiative aimed at developing a more effective, coordinated provincial approach to ethics review of health research studies involving multiple Research Ethics Boards (REB). It is funded at $1 million over a four-year period (2011-2105).


Spark

Spark is a new blog dedicated to issues and outcomes in British Columbia's health research community. We are proud to feature new content contributed by BC researchers working across a broad range of health disciplines. Below is a selection of recent posts.

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// April 16, 2014

With the endorsement of the senior leaders of the partner organizations involved in the BC Ethics Harmonization Initiative (BCEHI), MSFHR is taking on project management of the initiative as it enters a new phase of development.

The BCEHI is an MSFHR-facilitated and funded initiative aimed at developing a more effective, coordinated provincial approach to ethics review of health research studies involving multiple Research Ethics Boards (REB).  It is funded at $1 million over a four year period (2011-2105).

Over the last two years, work has taken place to build trust among the partner organizations involved in the BCEHI, creating a solid foundation to develop and implement the review model(s) needed to achieve harmonized ethics review in BC. The BC Ethics Harmonization Reciprocity Agreement is in place that authorizes the 14 ethics review boards under their jurisdiction to collaborate on the development of streamlined ethics review processes between institutions, and there is agreement in principle to a centralized approach to provincial ethics review.

A new advisory committee will be appointed, with representation from each of the partner organizations, to bring together their experience and knowledge to the development of centralized REB review models. Development of the models will take place over the next spring and summer, and implemented on a test basis over a six-month period starting this fall. The aim is to have the models approved by the partner organization by spring 2015.


// April 16, 2014

A new resource commissioned by MSFHR will help define how nurses move through their careers in developing knowledge, skills, and competencies related to research and research use.

The Health Services Researcher Pathway, developed through the BC Nursing Research Initiative, describes five distinct levels of nurses’ research competency. The document is intended to support greater use of research at the point of care, where most nurses work.

The five levels outlined in the pathway are:

  • Level 1 – Research User
    The nurse learning about research use in care delivery settings
  • Level 2 – Research User
    The nurse using research in care delivery settings
  • Level 3 – Research User
    The nurse facilitating and leading research use in care delivery settings
  • Level 4 – Research Producer
    The nurse as a beginning researcher
  • Level 5 – Research Producer
    The nurse as a research scientist leading a program of research

This framework was informed by published literature, as well as consultation with stakeholders from across BC, including nurses in practice.

The pathway was developed by a project team co-led by Noreen Frisch (director, University of Victoria School of Nursing) and Sherry Hamilton (chief nursing and liaison officer, Provincial Health Services Authority).

The complete pathway and its supporting documents are available for download.


// April 15, 2014

There is growing awareness of fundamental differences in the health issues affecting women and men. Not only do women face unique health challenges, they also respond differently than men to many diseases due to biological, environmental, and social factors.

Recognizing these facts, there is a need for high-quality research focused specifically on the health of girls and women.

Since 2005, the Women’s Health Research Institute (WHRI) has served as a vital catalyst for women-centred research throughout British Columbia. Based at BC Women’s Hospital, WHRI supports research across all four CIHR pillars — biomedical, clinical, health services, and population health — with the goal of providing evidence to improve the health of women, their families, and their communities.

Specific research areas supported by WHRI include women’s reproductive health, genomic investigation of the vaginal microbiome, HIV and HPV prevention and treatment, the role of social and policy environments on the health of women who use alcohol and other drugs, and research focused on patients and other users of health services.

As part of its mandate to enhance women’s health research, WHRI has partnered with MSFHR since 2011 to jointly fund research trainees. For the 2013 Trainee competition, the partnership funded Dr. Shira Goldenberg, a post-doctoral researcher based at the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS.

Goldenberg’s research project will assess how international and domestic migration by female sex workers impacts a number of health factors, including risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, interpersonal sexual risks and drug use, and access to health services. The study will help develop a new survey module on migration experiences that will advance our understanding of the gendered public health impacts of migration.

MSFHR and WHRI previously partnered with NeuroDevNet to fund a Trainee award for Dr. Gillian Hanley in 2011.

In addition to funding research, WHRI provides support services that help address gaps in women’s health research across BC. These services include building capacity for women-centred clinical trials, grants facilitation, biostatistical consultation, connecting researchers to clinical and administrative databases, supporting better communication between the areas of clinical practice and academic research, and assisting with research ethics applications.

WHRI encourages researchers and clinicians throughout BC who are studying women’s health issues to apply for membership and join the organization. More information is available at www.whri.org.


// April 11, 2014

A version of this article originally appeared on the Simon Fraser University website. It is reprinted here by kind permission.

Now, more than ever, we need health research to help us address a number pressing health issues, both here in Canada and around the world.

Diabetes rates, for instance, continue to be on the rise and we need to find interventions that can help individuals, families, and communities manage this illness. Alzheimer's disease is another condition that is affecting an increasing number of individuals and families and presents significant challenges to our health-care system. New discoveries about the mechanisms of disease, potential treatment options, and ways the health system can respond more effectively to those affected are critical.

And once these discoveries are made, we, as health researchers, need to do a better job of sharing the outcomes of our work to help the public grasp the importance and impact of health research.  

We need to use multiple channels of communication to get our message across. These channels include social media, traditional media sources, websites, blogs, and newsletters. We also need to help equip researchers so that they feel fully prepared to talk about their findings and engage with the media about their research.

SFU Health Research Day, held April 10, allowed us to shine a light on some of the excellent work taking place in British Columbia to address our health challenges. Health research in BC is cutting edge and is increasingly being recognized nationally and internationally. It is my strong sense that this research is making a difference to individuals, families, and communities and that this work needs to be celebrated.

In addition to events like SFU Health Research Day, we need to reach to the media – it can play a key role in telling the story of health research. I've heard some people complain that the media tends to focus on new commercial products and new discoveries in the basic sciences. There is a tendency to focus on these types of stories because they are compelling.

The challenge for us is to learn how to talk about the contributions of all of our health research and help the media, and by extension, the public understand its importance. In other words, I don't think that there's a problem with the media focusing on the wrong issues; rather, we need to learn how to be more compelling in the way that we share research findings.

Dr. Joy Johnson is incoming Vice-President, Research at Simon Fraser University. She is a professor of nursing at the University of British Columbia and scientific director of the Institute of Gender and Health at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.


// April 2, 2014
 Six BC-based health researchers will have the chance to gain real-world policy-making experience as recipients of 2014 MSFHR/CIHR Science Policy Fellowships

Six BC-based health researchers will have the chance to gain real-world policy-making experience as recipients of 2014 MSFHR/CIHR Science Policy Fellowships.

The award recipients will be embedded in the BC Ministry of Health for between six and 12 months in a policy setting, where they will work as part of a policy team.

A full list of 2014 MSFHR/CIHR Science Policy Fellows and corresponding policy assignments is below:

Applicant Name Project Title/Assignment Host
Diana Campbell Examination of Systems Approaches to Advancing Quality and Safety in the Delivery of Health and Support Services in Home and Community Care Seniors Directorate, Health Sector Planning and Innovation Division
Rebecca Haines-Saah Development of Evidence-Based Provincial Policy Options for Child and Youth Mental Health and Substance Use Programs, Supports, and Services in BC Healthy Minds, Healthy People Directorate
Rabia Khan Provincial Policy Implications and Potential Reforms Relating to Personalized Medicine Health Sector Planning and Innovation Division with the Provincial Health Services Authority
Conny Hsin Chen Lin Understanding Physician Resources and Capacity in Treating Opioid Dependent Clients Health Services Policy and Quality Assurance Division
Megan McLarnon Preventing or Reducing Pharmaceutical Opioid-Related Harms in BC Population and Public Health Division
Karolina Rozworska Implementation of Increasing Capacity for Evidence-Based Psychotherapy in Mental Health and Substance Use Services in BC Health Services Policy and Quality Assurance Division

As part of its commitment to bridging the gap between research and practice, MSFHR is proud to fund these BC-based policy assignments in partnership with CIHR. This year’s competition marks the second time MSFHR has partnered on the Science Policy Fellowships program. In 2012, MSFHR funded researcher Noreen Kamal to undertake a six-month placement in the BC Ministry of Health to study emergency department care.

“The Foundation is very excited to help facilitate evidence-informed practice and policy-making,” said Gayle Scarrow, Manager, Knowledge Translation at MSFHR. “These fellowships are a great opportunity for researchers to learn about the science-policy interface and for policy-makers to receive timely and relevant research on issues of importance to them.”


// March 28, 2014

Dr. Teresa Liu-Ambrose, PhD, PT, Associate Professor, is a Canada Research Chair and a Peter Wall Institute Scholar at the University of British Columbia, Department of Physical Therapy. She directs the Aging, Mobility and Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory as well as the Vancouver General Hospital’s Falls Prevention Clinic. At the Centre for Brain Health and the Centre for Hip Health and Mobility, her research program focuses broadly on defining the role of lifestyle behaviours in promoting health and quality of life of older adults, with a focus on target populations at particular risk for both cognitive and physical decline. 

Michelle Munkacsy, MHK, is Study Coordinator for Dr. Teresa Liu-Ambrose.

More blog posts: Spark >> A BC Health Research Blog


300,000 Canadians report living with the effects of a stroke, according to Canada’s Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention and Control’s 2009 report. In addition, another 40,000 to 50,000 Canadians are hospitalized each year due to strokes.

Common consequences of strokes include both cognitive and motor deficits. In fact, having a stroke doubles the risk of developing dementia [1]. However, current stroke rehabilitation does not adequately deal with the cognitive consequences of stroke – memory disorders, impaired reasoning – especially for those who are in the chronic phase at least 12 months since their stroke.

Dr. Teresa Liu-Ambrose’s lab, which focuses on healthy aging, is studying ways to combat cognitive decline in this population.

Exercise training is a promising strategy to promote cognitive function. Past research, including our own, has shown that different types of exercise training can promote cognitive abilities of older adults [2-4].  However, there is insufficient quality evidence for stroke survivors. Furthermore, stroke survivors often have physical impairments that significantly limit their ability to exercise.

Current evidence suggests that that strong social networks and participating in strategic social activities, such as interactive games and volunteering, may be an alternative and effective way of promoting cognitive function in older adults, including those with have suffered a stroke [5-7]. The bottom line is that current evidence suggests that to maintain cognitive health, it pays to get up, move, and interact with the world and people around us. 

Until now, research in dementia prevention hasn’t focused on chronic stroke survivors, but our lab would like to change that. Over the next two years, we are conducting a randomized controlled trial to study how both an exercise program and a social and cognitive enrichment program may benefit cognitive function in this target population. This work builds on our earlier efforts which have provided preliminary evidence that both approaches have benefit for cognitive function in individuals with chronic stroke.

The proposed research is timely as there is an urgent need to reduce the burden of cognitive impairment and dementia in our aging population. Critically, if the onset and progression of dementia could be delayed by a modest one year, there will be nearly 9.2 million fewer cases of dementia in 2050. For the individual affected by stroke, reducing the severity of their cognitive deficits could promote functional independence and quality of life.

If you would like more information on our research, or would like to be a part of this study, please go to our lab’s website at http://cogmob.rehab.med.ubc.ca/research, or find the study at www.clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01916486.


References

  1. Kokmen E, Whisnant JP, O’Fallon WM, Chu CP, Beard CM.  Dementia after ischemic stroke: A population-based study in Rochester, Minnesota (1960-1984). Neurology. 1996: 46: 154-159.
  2. Colcombe S, Kramer AF.  Fitness effects on the cognitive function of older adults: A meta-analytic study.  Psychol Sci.  2003: 14: 125-130.
  3. Liu-Ambrose T, Nagamatsu LS, Graf P, Beattie BL, Ashe MC, Handy TC.  Resistance training and executive functions: A 12-month randomized controlled trial.  Arch Intern Med. 2010: 170: 170-178.
  4. Nagamatsu LS, Handy TC, Hsu CL, Voss M, Liu-Ambrose T.  Resistance training promotes cognitive and functional brain plasticity in seniors with probable mild cognitive impairment.  Arch Intern Med. 2012: 172: 666-668.
  5. Valenzuela MJ, Sachdev P.  Brain reserve and dementia: A systematic review. Psychol Me. 2006: 36: 441-454.
  6. Fratiglioni L, Wang HX, Ericsson K, Maytan M, Winblad B.  Influence of social network on occurrence of dementia: A community-based longitudinal study.  Lancet. 200: 355: 1315-1319.
  7. Rand D, Eng JJ, Liu-Ambrose T, Tawashy AE. Feasibility of a 6-month exercise and recreation program to improve executive functioning and memory in individuals with chronic stroke.  Neurorehabil Neural Repair. 2010: 24: 722-729.

// March 25, 2014

The BC Ministry of Health’s Clinical Care Management (CCM) Initiative is being used as a case study to better understand the dynamics of large-scale change in BC’s health system.

This project, commissioned by the BC Patient Safety & Quality Council in partnership with MSFHR, seeks to identify and assess mechanisms that enable or constrain the implementation of clinical guidelines in various contexts.

If you have been involved in implementing CCM clinical care guidelines, we would appreciate your thoughts on the results of our work so far by participating in a brief online survey before April 9.

We also ask that you forward the survey to any colleagues who have also been involved in CCM implementation, using the following link: http://fluidsurveys.com/s/LSC-CCM/. The survey is anonymous; your identity cannot be associated with your responses. 

To date the project has engaged a wide range of participants in an extensive data collection process including key informant interviews and focus groups. All participants have been working at some level with CCM clinical guideline implementation.

The final deliverables for this project will include recommendations and practical discussion tools for improving the implementation of change initiatives in our health system.

Questions?

If you have any questions or concerns about the survey, please contact the project team via Jen Bitz (jen.bitz@in-source.ca)


// March 24, 2014

Connections is MSFHR's monthly e-newsletter. Each issue highlights the top MSFHR news from the past month and showcases the impact of research we've funded.

Join our mailing list to receive Connections by e-mail!


In this issue:

Feature

MSFHR News

Research Roundup


Seniors' mobility research comes to life in new documentary

"What makes a neighbourhood a good place to grow old?"

That's the question underscoring I'd Rather Stay, a new documentary by MSFHR-funded knowledge broker Callista Haggis, which examines the urban environment's impact on older adults living in Greater Vancouver.

The film is an intimate look at the lives of five older adults as they reflect on the features of their homes and neighbourhoods that contribute to physical and emotional well-being.

I'd Rather Stay illustrates themes identified by the Active Streets, Active People (ASAP) study, a research program of the Centre for Hip Health and Mobility. ASAP is evaluating the impact of street-level changes in Vancouver's West End — specifically the development of the Comox-Helmcken greenway — on older adults' mobility and social interactions.


Report and asset map build foundation for national HSPR strategy

A strategic analysis of Canada's assets and resources for health services and policy research (HSPR) represents an important step towards the first pan-Canadian vision and strategy for HSPR. The analysis, led by the CIHR Institute of Health Services and Policy Research, was recently published as a comprehensive report and complementary asset map.

MSFHR President & CEO Dr. Diane Finegood served as a lead on the project in her capacity as co-chair of the National Alliance of Provincial Health Research Organizations.


SPOR business plan completion targeted for March 31

The business plan for BC’s SPOR support unit is nearing completion. A draft outlining the unit’s vision, mission, goals, and service model is currently undergoing revision with a targeted completion date of March 31.

The business plan is informed by a broad range of perspectives from across BC’s health research sector. Input has been gathered over the past year through an extensive consultation process that has engaged government representatives, health system leaders, health care providers, researchers, and experts on patient perspectives. Recent consultation activities have included a workshop for clinical trials experts, held March 11 in Vancouver, and regional focus sessions held the week of March 17 – 21 in Northern BC, the Interior, and on Vancouver Island.

Once completed, the SPOR support unit business plan will be submitted to CIHR for review. The iterative review process for business plan submissions is outlined on CIHR’s website.

For more information on SPOR and BC’s support unit, visit www.bcsupportunit.ca.


MSFHR announces new board members, senior staff portfolio changes

MSFHR is pleased to welcome three new members to its board of directors. Joining the board are Heather Davidson, Roslyn Kunin, and Marco Marra, whose appointments were confirmed at the February 21 board meeting.

The incoming board members collectively bring with them a wealth of experience across the research, business and government sectors. Full bios of all directors are available on MSFHR’s website.

MSFHR is also pleased to announce the following portfolio changes for members of its management team.

  • Bev Holmes is now vice-president, research & impact, with responsibility for programs and competitions in addition to her current portfolio of projects, knowledge translation, and impact analysis.
  • Gordon Schwark is now vice-president, finance & corporate services. In addition to finance, his portfolio includes human resources, facilities, IT/IM, shared services, and board governance.
  • Greg Martyn will assume the role of interim director, programs & competitions, while also serving as director of projects.

Research Roundup

  • Francesco Crea
    New research led by MSFHR Trainee Francesco Crea describes a previously uncharacterized gene, PCAT18, that is a driver of prostate cancer metastasis. The findings, published recently in the journal Oncotarget, suggest that PCAT18 represents a potential therapeutic target and biomarker for metastatic prostate cancer, which is currently incurable.
     
  • Elaine Kingwell & Helen Tremlett
    Beta interferons (IFNB), the most frequently prescribed immunomodulatory drugs for multiple sclerosis, are not associated with increased risk of cancer, according to new research led by MSFHR Trainee Elaine Kingwell and MSFHR Scholar Helen Tremlett. By linking data from more than 5,000 MS patients in BC with data from the BC Cancer Agency, BC Vital Statistics, and the BC Ministry of Health, the researchers were able to compare IFNB treatment histories of MS patients with and without cancer over a 12-year period. The results, published recently in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, provide valuable evidence of the long-term effects of IFNB treatment.

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// March 20, 2014

A strategic analysis of Canada’s assets and resources for health services and policy research (HSPR) represents an important step towards the first pan-Canadian vision and strategy for HSPR.

The analysis, led by the CIHR Institute of Health Services and Policy Research (CIHR-IHSPR), was recently published as a comprehensive report and complementary asset map. MSFHR president and CEO Dr. Diane Finegood served as a lead on the project in her capacity as co-chair of the National Alliance of Provincial Health Research Organizations.

Some of the report’s key findings include:

  • Canada funds and conducts a substantial and increasing amount of HSPR;
  • HSPR investments reflect the priorities that have dominated health care agendas over the past 10 years;
  • HSPR capacity is clustered in certain regions of the country;
  • greater investment may be needed in areas related to financing and sustainability, change management, and scaling up innovation.

In addition to the strategic analysis, CIHR-IHSPR conducted an online survey of Canadian researchers, as well as key informant interviews with more than 50 health research leaders from across the country

These consultation activities will inform a Priorities Forum in April 2014 that will bring together partners, policy leaders, citizens, and representatives of the HSPR community to develop the inaugural pan-Canadian vision and strategy. The resulting strategy is expected to position Canada as a global leader in HSPR that optimizes health and health system outcomes.