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First published on CAHSPR Connects: https://cahspr.ca/cahspr-connects-covid-19-research-pivots/
We got funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) to do health services research! This may not sound like major news, but health services make up a small proportion of CIHR funding (figure 1), and success rates for CIHR funding have been dwindling from 30% in 2005 to a rate below 15% in 2018. According to CIHR, “health services research is a multidisciplinary field of scientific investigation that studies how social factors, financing systems, organizational structures, health technologies, and personal behaviours affect access to health care, the quality and cost of health care, and, ultimately, Canadians’ health and wellbeing”, and “includes the goal of improving the efficiency and effectiveness of health professionals and the health care system, through changes in practice and policy.” So, while a small proportion of CIHR funding, the work of this pillar is of critical importance to the health and wellbeing of Canadians, and has never been more relevant and needed than in our new COVID-19 reality.
Figure 1: CIHR Investments by Primary Theme Over Time (in millions of dollars)Source: cihr-irsc.gc.ca/e/50218.html
So, we got funded, YAY! But getting funded was not enough this time. Just as we started preparing our research ethics application to begin our “CUP-Study”, to conduct a comparative analysis of centralized waitlist effectiveness, policies, and innovations for connecting unattached patients to primary care providers, the word came – a halt to our research activity until further notice due to advancing COVID-19. We needed to pivot, (a word that had more use in 2020 than in the last 5 years combined, along with “you’re on mute” and “sorry, my kids are running around”), to conduct research that could be carried out safely and included COVID-19 relevance. And we succeeded. Here’s how:
While we were prepared and successful in pivoting to COVID-times, I recognize many great teams were not as fortunate. These are extraordinarily challenging times. Many have lost loved ones, had their research programs halted, are working from home with increased responsibilities, or had to let go of talented research staff. Perhaps the most important lesson emerging from COVID-19, is that the health and wellbeing of all humanity is inescapably linked to how well we support and care for all human beings. My hope is that COVID-19 may lead to greater focus on equity and social determinants of heath, not only in our own backyards, but globally. Health services research and primary healthcare will play a vital role in this. So, let’s fund more of it!!!
To learn more about our PUPPY-Study, please follow and contact us at…
Dr. Emily Gard Marshall, PhD
Primary healthcare researcher and Nominated Principal Investigator for the PUPPY-Study