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New Hamilton-based research initiative could change the face of primary care

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New Hamilton-based research initiative could change the face of primary care

A new research collective based in Hamilton aims to support and strengthen primary care across the globe by drawing on the expertise and research of world-renowned clinicians and researchers.

In a press release sent out Wednesday (Sept. 30), McMaster University’s Department of Family Medicine announced the launch of the David Braley Primary Care Research Collaborative.

“Research in primary care is critically important to improving health,” said David Price, professor and chair of the Department of Family Medicine in the release.

“When people have access to strong primary care, they can address a health concern before it leads to a trip to the hospital. So, not only does primary care keep people healthy, it saves health care dollars.”

Research, the release says, has shown the strongest evidence for improving health outcomes in the population is by strengthening primary care.

A primary care provider could be a family physician, nurse, dietitian or other trained health professionals, and the first called when people have a health concern.

The David Braley Primary Care Research Collaborative hopes to connect researchers, clinicians, educators and partners to work on issues that will address the diverse needs of any given community.

“By bringing people together, this collaborative will help to answer really important questions in primary care that will absolutely improve patient outcomes,” said Paul O’Byrne, dean and vice-president of McMaster’s Faculty of Health Sciences.

Hamilton businessman David Braley has put up $1 million of the $4 million price tag to launch the initiative. According to the release, the Braley’s investment is the largest endowment supporting a research collaborative in primary care which, in itself, is a first of its kind in Canada.

Capacity building and mentorship are key goals of the collaborative, says Dee Mangin, professor and associate chair of research for the department.

“We are constantly wondering how to provide the most effective treatment for a patient given their life context, or how to better educate our future family physicians,” she said.

“The collaborative aims to empower clinicians, educators and researchers to turn these wonderings into research that will answer those questions for all of us.”

Some of the research studies already underway include:

  • [email protected] brings paramedics into subsidized housing on a regular basis to assess health risks and provide tailored education to low-income seniors. It has been shown to decrease 911 calls to the building by as much as 20 per cent. The program is running in 35 per cent of paramedic services across Ontario and is spreading across Canada.
    Principal investigator: Gina Agarwal, family physician, professor of family medicine
  • TAPER is studying how to reduce the number of unnecessary medications a patient takes using a collaborative approach involving the patient, their family doctor, a pharmacist and an online tool to “pause and monitor” medications. Initial trials have shown promising results on patient quality of life, sleep, pain, treatment burden and cognitive ability.
    Principal investigator: Dee Mangin, family physician, professor and associate chair of research
  • The prison health research program describes the health status and health care use of people who experience incarceration, to influence practice and policy to improve health outcomes. The goal is to prevent incarceration, improve health care in prisons, and support health and community reintegration for people at the time of prison release.
    Principal investigator: Fiona Kouyoumdjian, family physician, assistant professor of family medicine
  • Indigenous Teaching Through Art (ITTA) is a program for faculty, clinicians and staff to increase their knowledge about Indigenous people in Canada through visual art and culture at the Woodland Cultural Centre in Brantford. The program is being evaluated by questionnaires, focus groups and interviews.
    Co-created and co-facilitated by: Amy Montour, family physician, assistant professor of family medicine, Oneida Nation, Six Nations of the Grand River; Lorrie Gallant, artist and storyteller, Cayuga Nation, Six Nations of the Grand River; Joyce Zazulak, family physician, professor of family medicine
  • Health TAPESTRY brings trained volunteers into the homes of older adults to improve connection to interprofessional health care teams and community resources. The results have shown that participants in the program visited their primary care team more and were admitted to the hospital less. The program has just completed a scale up to six sites across Ontario.
    Principal Investigators: Doug Oliver (implementation lead), family physician, associate professor of family medicine, David Price (executive academic lead), family physician, professor and chair of family medicine, Dee Mangin (evaluation lead), family physician, professor and associate chair of research

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