Two Western led teams share in $33 million primary care research funding

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Two Western University led teams -one looking at innovative solutions for the growing problem of chronic disease in First Nations communities, and the other tackling the way primary health care handles patients with multiple chronic conditions, are among those sharing a total of $33 million from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Federal Minister of Health, today announced funding for 12 research teams focused on improving Community-Based Primary Health Care (CBPHC) in Canada and other countries.

The CBPHC Innovation Teams will work to develop innovative solutions to improve the delivery of primary health care. The researchers will tackle pressing challenges such as chronic disease prevention and management, and access issues for vulnerable populations.

Dr. Stewart Harris of the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry's Centre for Studies in Family Medicine has received $2.5 million over five years for a program called Transformation of Indigenous Primary Healthcare Delivery (FORGE AHEAD). It will develop community-driven, primary healthcare models that enhance chronic disease management in First Nations communities. Type 2 diabetes will be the chronic disease targeted but FORGE AHEAD will also produce a tool-kit of tested strategies that can be successfully used for other chronic diseases in First Nations communities across Canada.

The FORGE AHEAD team includes Western investigators Sonja Reichert, Merrick Zwarenstein, and Amardeep Thind, along with research partners across nine provinces including many First Nations community representatives and Indigenous healthcare providers.

Moira Stewart, PhD, Distinguished University Professor and Dr. Brian W. Gilbert Canada Research Chair in Primary Health Care Research in the Department of Family Medicine will lead a mainly Ontario and Quebec team investigating "Patient Centred Innovations for Persons with Multimorbidity." This is a 5 year $2.5 million dollar grant. Dr. Martin Fortin of the Université de Sherbrooke and CIHR Applied Chair in Health Services and Policy Research on Chronic Diseases in Primary Care, is the co-principal investigator.

People with chronic conditions are likely to have more than one condition, but the healthcare system is mostly designed for one condition at a time. This team's goal is to change primary health care and community-based chronic disease prevention and management programs: to reorient care from single disease focus to a multiple disease focus; to centre on not only disease but also the patient; and to change the health care system from separate to coordinated components in care.

Stewart is also a researcher in the Centre for Studies in Family Medicine. She is joined on this project by Thind, Zwarenstein and Judith Belle Brown of Western, and a multi-disciplinary team from Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia.