Why do some people - and even whole communities - enjoy better health than others?
A group of population health researchers from the University of Regina and University of Saskatchewan has been granted $750,000 from the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation (SHRF) to find out.
The researchers are part of SPHERU - the Saskatchewan Population Health and Evaluation Research Unit - which has a permanent presence in Saskatoon, Regina, and Prince Albert, and conducts research with communities across the province.
Building on its 10-year history of leadership in population health research and program evaluation, SPHERU researchers will look at what social programs and policies, both informal and formal, and current and past, contribute to reducing health disparities in Saskatchewan communities.
The initiative, entitled Population Health Intervention Research: Addressing Health Inequities in Vulnerable Populations, will be led by Bonnie Jeffery, Faculty of Social Work, at the University of Regina and Nazeem Muhajarine at the University of Saskatchewan along with a team of researchers from disciplines such as geography, economics, kinesiology and health, and political science.
The goal of this research program is to help reduce health disparities in Saskatchewan's most vulnerable populations, including children and both aboriginal and non-aboriginal seniors, in rural and remote communities as well as in urban environments.
"This initiative is very much a partnership among researchers and communities," said Jeffery, who is also director of SPHERU. "Together, we hope what we learn will help shape policy and inform development of programs to improve people's health through attention to those interventions that are most effective for specific populations."
"Research is an activity that should engage people and empower them," added Nazeem Muhajarine. "We work in partnership with communities and try to understand what the important issues are, so that our research is, in effect, answering the questions that they are posing and addressing the challenges that they are facing."
Over the next three years, SPHERU research will inform an increased understanding of the existing support networks and community level interventions within a community, identify the origins of present day health inequities through an historical lens, and explore the conditions that create successful programs, policies, and systems known to improve the health of children and seniors. The understanding gained through this research will provide academics, policy-makers, and community partners with increased insight into the factors that create and help sustain healthy individuals and communities across Saskatchewan.