CIHR launches casebooks about Canadians turning research into action

Better care for newborn babies, improved workplace safety, support for early childhood development and help for communities coping with disasters

Improving healthcare for newborn babies at risk; reducing workplace injury and illness; shaping community action plans for early childhood development; and helping Canada's minority communities cope with the Tsunami disaster: these and other Canadian stories about transforming research results into action can be found in two casebooks launched today by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

"These casebooks offer compelling examples of how research evidence gets used in strengthening Canada's health care system and improving the health of Canadians. They also provide a rare glimpse behind the scenes, to show what works, and what doesn't work, in getting research evidence into practical use," said Dr. Morris Barer, Scientific Director of the CIHR Institute of Health Services and Policy Research.

The two knowledge translation casebooks: Moving Population and Public Health Knowledge into Action by the CIHR Institute of Population and Public Health, and the Canadian Population Health Initiative and Evidence in Action, Acting on Evidence by the CIHR Institute of Health Services and Policy Research, were published to help researchers, policy-makers and community members learn from the experiences of others. Compiling this information is an important step to ensure that new knowledge shapes health policy, program delivery and, ultimately, improves the health of Canadians.

"I hope this collection of stories inspires other researchers, policy makers and community members to find new innovative ways to move research into action," said Dr. John Frank, Scientific Director of the CIHR Institute of Population and Public Health. "These examples teach us that research has the biggest impact on improving the health of citizens when it reflects the real needs of communities."

Examples of stories about moving research into real world application include:

The Canadian Neonatal Network (CNN) captures information about treatments given at neonatal units across Canada. These data have already helped one institution reduce the number of infections by half giving Canada's premature babies and high risk newborns the best possible chance at healthy lives;

The Eastern Canada Consortium on Workplace Health and Safety is trying to reduce the hundreds of thousands of employees involved in industrial accidents each year and the more than $10 billion these problems cost in Canada. University, government and workplace collaborations are helping compile lessons learned in Quebec and translating them into improvements in workplace health and safety in Newfoundland;

The Human Early Learning Partnership is providing data to shape community action plans in British Columbia. This information is crucial in order to reduce the number of children (currently 25% in BC) who arrive on the first day of school challenged in fundamental aspects of cognitive, language, social, physical and emotional development;

The Local Distress Relief Network (LDRN), created by a group of concerned scientists, physicians and community leaders, provided information, referral and culturally appropriate health care to the Toronto Tamil Community to help them deal with grief and loss during the Tsunami of December 2004.

"This collection of stories highlights the tremendous potential of population and public health research in shaping more effective policy and practices in communities across Canada," says Elizabeth Gyorfi-Dyke, Director of the Canadian Population Health Initiative. "We hope these casebooks will be valuable tools for policy- and decision-makers to influence health."


Knowledge Translation (KT) has played an integral part in the development of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) since its inception in June 2000. CIHR envisions KT as the exchange, synthesis and ethically-sound application of knowledge for the benefit of Canadians through improved health, more effective services and products, and a strengthened health care system. The KT casebooks launched today provide concrete illustrations of how health care system, population and public health, and research knowledge have been translated in Canada.

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) is the Government of Canada's agency for health research. CIHR's mission is to create new scientific knowledge and to catalyze its translation into improved health, more effective health services and products, and a strengthened Canadian health care system. Composed of 13 Institutes, CIHR provides leadership and support to close to 10,000 health researchers and trainees across Canada.

The CIHR Institute of Population and Public Health (IPPH) supports research into the complex interactions (biological, social, cultural, environmental) which determine the health of individuals, communities, and global populations; and into the application of that knowledge to improve the health of both populations and individuals.

The CIHR Institute of Health Services and Policy Research (IHSPR) supports outstanding research, capacity-building and knowledge translation initiatives designed to improve the way health care services are organized, regulated, managed, financed, paid for, delivered and used in the interest of improving the health and quality of life of all Canadians.


CIHR Knowledge Translation Casebook Project Summaries

Canadian Neonatal Network

The Canadian Neonatal Network (CNN) has dramatically improved the quality of health care for newborn babies in Canada. Their formula for success is now being spread around the world. By conducting multidisciplinary research and linking researchers administrators and health care practitioners, the CNN has helped all 30 tertiary neonatal intensive care units and 16 universities across Canada give Canada's premature babies the best possible chance at a healthy life. A national electronic database captures information about NICU admissions in Canada, while information from an annual audit report monitors outcomes, practices and trends. The results are fed back to individual institutions and regional health authorities. Proof this approach is working - one institution has reduced its incidence of infections by half, while its findings regarding the impact of premature birth on retinopathy will halve the number of infants routinely screened and reduce costs by more than $1 million each year. What's next? CNN has established the International Neonatal Collaboration to facilitate international research partnerships with countries including India, China, Singapore, Mexico and Australia.

Reducing Workplace Injury and Illness

Hundreds of thousands of employees are involved in industrial accidents each year, the costs of these accidents and workplace illnesses are estimated at more than $10 billion in Canada. In an effort to reduce these human and financial costs, the Eastern Canada Consortium on Workplace Health and Safety is taking lessons learned in Quebec, a province with a strong tradition of university-government-workplace collaboration, and translating them into improvements in Newfoundland, a province in need of capacity building in Workplace health and safety. In one successful example, the Newfoundland and Labrador Construction Safety Association developed links to a similar agency in Quebec and is implementing practices and products that have already proven successful. This project will continue to improve workplace safety in Atlantic Canada, as the researchers capture the lessons learned and pass them on through documents called "learning history."

Mapping Early Childhood Development

BC's teachers know that as many as 25% of children arrive on the first day of school challenged in fundamental aspects of cognitive, language, social, physical and emotional development. Now, researchers are helping to shape community action plans for addressing these problems early, and making sure that programs and resources effectively match children's needs. Since 2000, the Human Early Learning Partnership has conducted province-wide assessments of kindergarten children in BC to determine the needs of children and their families. The result is evidence-based programs that better reflect the communities they serve, including: new parenting programs and resource centres; hearing, sight and dental screening programs; full-day kindergartens; special programs for aboriginal preschoolers; and much more.

Helping Canadians Face Disasters

The tsunami of December 2004 not only affected countries around the Indian Ocean, it also had a devastating impact on the family and friends of victims living around the world, many of whom are right here in Canada. The fact that nearly 12% of Toronto's Tamil population was already suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, due to displacement and trauma during their native country's twenty-year civil war, made them a particularly vulnerable community. In the face of this crisis, a group of concerned scientists, physicians and community leaders formed the Local Distress Relief Network (LDRN) to provide information, referral and care to one the community. Luckily, the Tamil community had reached out to the research community long before the tsunami hit, which meant LDRN had early access to key information that helped them serve this community in crisis. This group succeeded in providing culturally appropriate health care that addressed the needs of a large minority Canadian community. The lessons learned: establishing community networks are key and the time to do it is now, before a crisis.

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Apr 2016
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