About Us

The long-term vision of this lab is to develop a sustainable program of population health intervention research that would be a pillar of empirical evidence for policymakers, as well as a fertile ground for the next generation of scholars.

Research Goal

The primary goal of the lab is to establish a network of interdisciplinary researchers, community partners and multisectoral stakeholders to synthesize and translate evidence in influencing policies to improve population health.

Objectives

  • To advance research methods by incorporating innovative computational epidemiological tools with community-based participatory and patient-oriented research
  • To inform population health interventions through cross-jurisdictional  program and policy evaluation
  • To address policy-driven health inequities among vulnerable groups, especially Indigenous populations
Dr. Katapally's Population Health Policy Laboratory is currenlty seeking competitive applications for masters, doctoral and post-doctoral degrees from candidates interested in conducting cutting-edge active living research using ubiquitous tools such as smartphones. Click here for more information. 

Research Team

Tarun Katapally
Tarun Katapally

Tarun Katapally, PhD, MSc, MBBS
Associate Professor, Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy

Dr. Tarun Katapally is a physician and a population health policy researcher at the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy. He holds an adjunct faculty position in the College of Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan and is a research affiliate with the Indigenous Peoples’ Health Research Centre and the Canadian Centre for Health and Safety in Agriculture. Internationally, he is the India lead for the generation of the Global Report Card on physical activity of children and youth, a knowledge translation endeavour to inform policy on active living across 40 countries. Dr. Katapally’s expertise is in linking advanced mixed-methods and complex analytical techniques with community-based participatory research to understand the impact of policy and policy-driven contexts and systems on health and wellbeing of populations. Increasingly, his focus is on the usage of digital epidemiological tools in informing active living policy.

Email: Tarun.katapally@uregina.ca; tarun.katapally@usask.ca


Priyanka Chopra

Priyanka Chopra
Priyanka Chopra was born and raised in the central part of India. In 2014, she received her Bachelor’s degree in Dental Surgery and then she started practicing as an Assistant Dentist at a private dental clinic in her hometown. With the desire to learn more about health care system and policies of North America she traveled to the United States and had the opportunity to observe and volunteer at various hospitals and dental schools. Currently, she is studying Masters of Public Policy at the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy. She joined Dr. Katapally’s research team in fall 2017 as a Research Coordinator based in Regina.

Email: pce539@uregina.ca


Ann Dorion
Ann Dorion

Ann Dorion
Ann Dorion is a member of the Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation and her grandparents in northern Saskatchewan raised her. Ann joined Dr. Katapally’s research team in the winter of 2018. Ann is interested in health intervention research, with a specific focus on the Indigenous populations. Ann’s research will be part of the SMART Platform, which combines Indigenous methodologies with citizen science and community-based participatory approaches in implementing a land-based active intervention among Indigenous youth – SMART Indigenous Youth. Ann believes that embracing cultural backgrounds and interests while engaging in physical activity is meaningful and sustainable. In September 2018, she will join the Masters of Public Policy program at the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy under Dr. Katapally’s supervision. 

Maryna Moskalenko

In 2016 Maryna Moskalenko graduated from the University of Regina with Bachelor of Science, Majoring in Computer Science, Great Distinction. Her passion includes looking for ways data analytics could be used to leverage pools of information to drive effective insights. This passion led her to start a quantitative research project under the supervision of Dr. Tarun Katapally and join Conexus Credit Union in a role of Data Scientist. In 2018 she successfully defended her thesis as a part of JSGS Master's of Public Policy program. Maryna’s thesis fits with the vision of the population health policy lab in utilizing innovative tools to develop policy recommendations for promoting mental health.


Kayla Stevenson
Kayla Stevenson
Kayla Stevenson, B.A. (Honours)
Kayla Stevenson joined Dr. Katapally’s research team in Winter 2017 as a student Research Coordinator. Kayla recently graduated from the University of Regina with a B.A. Hons. Psychology and will complete her Bachelor of Health Studies in April 2017.  Kayla had the opportunity to grow up in a rural community and continues to live in a rural area. Kayla would like to complete a Masters degree in Public Policy at the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy to further her research abilities. Once complete, she will apply to a Canadian medical school in hopes to provide healthcare services to rural populations.

Email: stevekay@uregina.ca


Susannah Walker
Susannah Walker

Susannah Walker
Susannah Walker is Waganakising Odawa (from northern Michigan) and grew up in the U.S. She has worked as a teacher in Texas and Colombia and completed her MSW in 2012 at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her work experience in Saskatchewan has been in the non-profit sector, and as an instructor in Indigenous Social Work at the First Nations University. Her research interests include health disparities among Indigenous people, especially access differences between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, and culturally responsive, community-based participatory research approaches for Indigenous communities.  Susannah joined the Population Health Policy Lab in June 2018. She is currently pursuing her Doctoral degree at the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy under Dr. Katapally’s supervision, and her research will be part of the SMART Platform.

Research Collaborators

Nathaniel Osgood, PhD, MS
Associate Professor, Department of Computer Science, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

Mark Tremblay, PhD
Director, Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research (HALO); Professor, Faculty of Medicine , University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario.

Scott Leatherdale, PhD
Associate Professor, School of Public Health and Health Systems, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario.

Daniel Rainham, PhD
Associate Professor; endowed Chair in Sustainability and Environmental Health, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Leah Ferguson, PhD, MSc
Assistant Professor, College of Kinesiology, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

Richard Larouche, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Applied Human Sciences, University of Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, PEI.

Justin Longo, PhD, MPA
Cisco Systems Research Chair in Big Data and Open Government, Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, University of Regina, Regina, Saskatchewan.

Mathieu Belanger
Associate Professor, Faculty of Health Sciences and Community Services, Université de Moncton, Moncton, New Brunswick.

James Dosman
Distinguished Research Chair, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

Punam Pahwa
Professor of Biostatistics, Department of Community Health and Epidemiology, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

Sylvia Abonyi
Associate Professor, Department of Community Health and Epidemiology, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

Donna Rennie
Professor, College of Nursing, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

Joshua Lawson
Associate Professor, Department of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

Gregory Marchildon
Ontario Research Chair in Health Policy and Systems Design, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario,

Warren Linds
Associate Professor, Applied Human Sciences, Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec.

Harminder Guliani
Associate Professor, Faculty of Arts, University of Regina, Regina, Saskatchewan.

Heather Foulds
Assistant Professor, College of Kinesiology, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

Heather Hadjistavropoulos
Professor, Faculty of Arts, University of Regina

Kristi Wright
Associate Professor, Faculty of Arts, University of Regina

Projects

SMART Platform

As part of the SMART Platform, researchers at the Population Health Policy Laboratory (PHPL) are engaging with citizen scientists via their smartphones to implement multiple studies with varied study designs (e.g. cross-sectional, longitudinal, randomized trials, natural experiments, population health interventions) across different jurisdictions within and outside Canada. The SMART Platform provides the flexibility to engage with participants (i.e., citizen scientists) in real-time to capture rich population health behavioural data. The studies utilize mixed-methods approaches to understand not just the incidence or prevalence of behaviours, but also where, when, how, and more importantly, why behaviours change. Comprehensive behavioural data collection is achieved by triangulating traditional surveys with ecological momentary assessments deployed via smartphones and mobile sensors, including global positioning systems, accelerometers, pedometers, and Wi-Fi networks. More importantly, a range of behavioural data (including physical activity, addictions and mental health) are being used to inform policy development. For example, the SMART Platform has obtained data related to marijuana consumption and perceptions before, during, and after marijuana legalization, which would help inform policies across jurisdictions in collaboration with primary stakeholders – Ministries of Education; Health; and Parks, Culture and Sport, and the Saskatchewan Health Authority.

SMART Indigenous Youth

Utilizing the SMART Platform, this 5-year community trial is being conducted in 4 communities (2-rural and 2-remote) in Saskatchewan. The trial involves the embedding of a culturally, linguistically, and geographically appropriate land-based active living intervention into the school curricula in collaboration with on-reserve school administrators, Elders, and community leaders. The youth are the citizen scientists in this initiative, where they interact with researchers in real-time using smartphones to provide their perception of their evolving behaviours in concert with the intervention being implemented. The focus of the intervention will be on holistic wellness, including physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Knowledge Translation, Citizen Engagement, and Community Participation are the three pillars of this trial.  Community partners are not only consulted continuously, but also co-own the data, determine changes to the intervention, and collaborate in knowledge dissemination.

SMART India

SMART India utilizes the SMART Platform to leverage innovative, smartphone-based methods to collect physical activity and complex contextual data by engaging with Indian children and youth in India. The initial phase of this study focuses exclusively on children and youth, and the data obtained will fill critical evidence gaps on various indicators of active living as identified by the 2016 and 3018 India Report Cards on Physical Activity for Children and Youth. Moreover, these data will be compared with Canadian data collected using the same methods to inform cross-country policies.

SMART Youth

SMART Youth extend the SMART Platform to schools in Saskatchewan, where we work closely with the school boards and individual schools in giving youth and educators the opportunity to become citizen scientists. As part of this initiative, we hope to co-create knowledge with schools, where youth share their perceptions of school environment, as well as behavioural data. Educators would be invited to provide policy and programming data. This initiative will allow youth and educators to use a free smartphone application in different seasons in Saskatchewan to engage with researchers from the University of Regina and Saskatchewan.

Addressing Access Differences in Healthcare Between Status Indians And Other Canadians

This initiative is to inform policy solutions through the quasi-experimental evaluation of natural policy experiments as part of the bifurcated health care system in Canada. The goal is to address inequities in access to extended health benefits to a legally defined sub-group of Indigenous Canadians registered by the federal government as “status Indians.” This study is based on a pilot conducted by the principal applicants (Greg Marchildon and Tarun Katapally) in Saskatchewan that revealed difficulties in access to diagnostic and treatment services for obstructive sleep apnea among status Indians. This difficulty in access, which manifests in longer wait times, is an example of a health inequity that exacerbates lower health status and poorer health outcomes in Indigenous populations across Canada and other settler nations.

Impact of Childcare Policies And Programs On Early Years Children’s Physical Activity: A Natural Experiment

This is a prospective community trial that investigates the effect of different policy, program, and physical environment settings across the four childcare settings in Regina on active play among early years children (2-5 years). In essence, it will be a natural experiment to inform future policies and programs by evaluating the impact of existing settings.

Informing Upstream Evidence-Based Policies to Minimize Screen Time Among Youth: A Compass Sub-Study

This project uses data from the COMPASS Study’s prospective quasi-experimental platform to evaluate the influence of school policies and programs on youth behaviour across Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec (https://uwaterloo.ca/compass-system/compass-system-projects/compass-study). The project is divided into two phases: 1. Informing school policies by understanding the influence of school physical activity policies and programs on multiple screen time behaviours among youth. 2. Informing school policies by understanding the influence of school bullying policies and perception of school connectedness on multiples screen time behaviours among youth. The multiple types of screen time include: television viewing, video gaming, internet usage, and texting.

Global Matrix 3.0: Cross-Country Knowledge Translation

Global Matrix 3.0 is the next installment (2018) of the twice-yearly international initiatives that Active Healthy Kids Global Alliance conducts. In 2016, Global Matrix 2.0 evaluated various aspects of child and youth active living in 38 countries spread across six continents (https://www.activehealthykids.org/). Global Matrix 3.0 is scaling up the project to include 52 countries. As part of this initiative, country-specific teams are developing Report Cards by appraising current evidence using rigorous methods and by assigning standardized grades to previously developed indicators of active living. I was the leader of the 2016 India Report Card and will lead the 2018 as well. I have put together an Indo-Canadian team that is independently developing the evidence-based scientific Report Card by assessing physical activity, sedentary behaviour, and multiple contextual factors that impact these behaviours in children and youth. The Report Card summarizes current evidence on not only key contexts such as family and peers, schools, and neighbourhood environment, but also the government strategies, policies, and investments that impact these contexts. The Report Cards will be unveiled in December 2018 in Adelaide, Australia.

Assess, Redress, Re-Assess: Addressing Disparities In Respiratory Health Among First Nations Youth

This is a complex multi-year community-based participatory research initiative involving two On-Reserves First Nations communities in central Saskatchewan. Implemented in four phases (baseline assessment, policy interventions [redress], community interventions [address] and evaluation), this population health intervention study targets four key determinant-outcome dyads identified by the communities. As part of this project, I lead the physical activity, sedentary behaviour, and obesity study, as well as the obstructive sleep apnea-related study.

Seasonality and Active Saskatoon Kids

Seasonality and Active Saskatoon Kids is an active living initiative that investigates children's physical activity and sedentary behaviour patterns longitudinally. This study utilizes GPS-equipped accelerometers to determine how children interact with urban spaces in all seasons to identify indicators of active living. This knowledge will inform urban planning policy in Saskatoon to help develop active urban communities.

Publications

Manyanga T, Barnes JD, Abdeta C, Adeniy AF, Bhawra J, Draper CE, Katapally TR, Khan A, Lambert E, Makaza D, Nyawornota VK, Ocansey R, Subedi N, Uddin R, Tladi D, Tremblay MS. Indicators of physical activity among children and youth in nine countries with low and medium Human Development Indices: A Global Matrix 3.0 paper. Journal of Physical Activity and Health. (Under-Review).

Katapally TR, Bhawra J, Leatherdale ST, Ferguson L, Longo J, Rainham D, Larouche R, Osgood N. The SMART study, a mobile health and citizen science methodological platform for active living surveillance, integrated knowledge translation, and policy interventions: longitudinal study. JMIR Pub Health Surveillance 2018;4(1):e1.

Katapally TR, Thorisdottir AS, Laxer R, Qian W, Leatherdale ST. The association of school connectedness and bullying involvement with multiple screen time behaviours among youth in two Canadian provinces: A COMPASS study. Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Prevention in Canada (In-Press).

Katapally TR, Bhawra J. A systematic review of the evolution of GPS use in active living research: from traditional methods to geocaching, gamification, and natural experiments. American Journal of Preventive Medicine (Under-Review).

Katapally TR, Laxer R, Qian W, Leatherdale S. Do school physical activity policies and programs have a role in decreasing multiple screen time behaviours among youth? A hierarchical cross-jurisdictional comparison. Preventive Medicine 2017 [In-Press]. Available online: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ypmed.2017.11.026

Janzen B, Karunanayake C, Rennie D, Katapally TR, Dyck R, MCMullin K, Fenton M, Ramsden V, Dosman J, Abonyi S, Pahwa P. Racial discrimination and depression among on-reserve First Nations people in rural Saskatchewan. Canadian Journal of Public Health 2017 [In-Press].

Belanger M, Katapally TR, Sabiston C, Barnett T, Maximova K, O’Loughlin J. Sustained participation in running, sports, fitness and dance activities throughout adolescence and body composition in adulthood: A longitudinal analysis. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 2017 [In-Press].

Marchildon GP, Beck C, Katapally TR, Episkenew J, Abonyi S, Dosman J, Pahwa P. Bifurcation of health policy regimes: A study of sleep apnea care and benefits coverage in Saskatchewan. Healthcare Policy 2017; 12 (4): 69–85. http://www.longwoods.com/content/25097

Katapally TR, Goenka S, Bhawra J, Mani S, Ghattu KV, Kehoe SH, Lamkang AS, Raj M, McNutt K. Results from the India 2016 report card on physical activity for children and youth. Journal of Physical Activity and Health 2016; 13 (11): S176 -S182. http://journals.humankinetics.com/doi/abs/10.1123/jpah.2016-0393?url_ver=Z39.88-2003&rfr_id=ori%3Arid%3Acrossref.org&rfr_dat=cr_pub%3Dpubmed&

Tremblay MS, Aguilar-Farias N, Akinroye KK, Al-Kuwari MG, Amornsri-watanakul A, Aubert S, Barnes JD, Belton S, Go1dys A, González SA, Herrera-Cuenca M, Jeon JY, Jürimäe J, Katapally TR, et al. Global matrix 2.0: Report card grades on the physical activity of children and youth comparing 38 countries. Journal of Physical Activity and Health 2016; 13 (11): S343 -S366. http://journals.humankinetics.com/doi/abs/10.1123/jpah.2016-0393?url_ver=Z39.88-2003&rfr_id=ori%3Arid%3Acrossref.org&rfr_dat=cr_pub%3Dpubmed&

Katapally TR, Rainham D, Muhajarine N. A methodology to leverage cross-sectional accelerometry to capture weather’s influence in active living research. Canadian Journal of Public Health 2016; 107 (1): e30–e36. http://journal.cpha.ca/index.php/cjph/article/viewFile/5242/3349

Katapally TR, Abonyi S, Episkenew J, Kirychuck S, Rennie D, Ramsden V, Karunanayake C, Dosman J, Pahwa P. Catalyzing action on First Nations respiratory health through community-based participatory research: Integrated knowledge translation through strategic symposia. Engaged Scholar Journal 2016; 2 (1): 57-70. http://esj.usask.ca/index.php/esj/article/view/198/56

Katapally TR, Rainham D, Muhajarine N. The influence of weather variation, urban design and built environment on objectively measured sedentary behaviour in children. AIMS Public Health 2016; 3 (4): 663-681. http://www.aimspress.com/aimsph/2016/4/663

Katapally TR, Rainham D, Muhajarine N. Factoring in weather variation to capture the influence of urban design and built environment on globally recommended levels of moderate to vigorous physical activity in children. BMJ Open 2015; 5(11): e009045. http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/5/11/e009045

Katapally TR, Muhajarine N. Capturing the interrelationship between objectively measured physical activity and sedentary behaviour in children in the context of diverse environmental exposures. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 2015; 12: 10995-11011. http://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/12/9/10995/htm

Marchildon GP, Katapally TR, Beck C, Episkenew J, Pahwa P, Abonyi S. Exploring policy driven systemic inequities in Canadian health care through physician perspectives. International Journal for Equity in Health 2015; 14: 148. http://pubmedcentralcanada.ca/pmcc/articles/PMC4683910/

Pahwa P, Abonyi S, Karunanayake C, Rennie D, Janzen B, Kirychuk K, Lawson J, Katapally TR, et al. A community-based participatory research methodology to address, redress and reassess disparities in respiratory health among First Nations. BMC Research Notes 2015; 8: 199. https://bmcresnotes.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13104-015-1137-5

Muhajarine N, Katapally TR, Fuller D, Stanley KG, Rainham D. Longitudinal active living research to address physical inactivity and sedentary behaviour in children in transition from preadolescence to adolescence. BMC Public Health 2015; 15: 495. https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12889-015-1822-2

Katapally TR, Muhajarine N. Towards uniform accelerometry analysis: A standardization methodology to minimize measurement bias due to systematic accelerometer wear-time variation. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine 2014; 13 (2): 379-386. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3990893/

Béland D, Katapally TR. Shaping policy change in population health. International Journal of Health Policy and Management 2017 [Accepted].

Katapally TR, Bhawra J, Leatherdale S, Rainham D, Ferguson L, Longo J, Larouche R, Tremblay M. The SMART study: A mobile-health methodological platform for active living surveillance, knowledge translation, and policy interventions. Journal of Medical Internet Research 2016 [Revisions Submitted].

Katapally TR, Thorisdottir AS, Laxer R, Qian W, Leatherdale S. Examining the association between school connectedness and involvement in bullying on multiple screen time behaviours among youth in the COMPASS study. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2017 [Revisions Submitted]

Katapally TR, Bhawra J. Systematic review of the evolution of GPS use in active living research: From traditional methods to geocaching, gamification and natural experiments. American Journal of Preventive Medicine 2016 [Submitted]

Stevenson K, Bhawra J, Katapally TR. Screen time’s effect on health in adults: A systematic review. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health [In-Progress].

Bhawra J, Chopra P, Katapally TR. A multi-level jurisdictional scoping review to understand active living policy and programming in Canada. Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Prevention in Canada [In-progress].

Katapally TR, Ma T, Karunanayake C, Lawson J, Rennie D,  Dosman J, Pahwa P. Relationship between screen time and blood pressure among On-Reserve First Nations youth. International Journal for Equity in Health [In-Progress]

Katapally TR, Stevenson K, Karunanayake C, Lawson J, Rennie d, D Dosman J, Pahwa P. Relationship between screen time and lung function among On-Reserve First Nations Youth. [In-Progress].

Katapally TR, Laxer R, Qian W, Leatherdale S. The influence of changing school policies and programs on multiple screen time behaviours among youth: A cross-jurisdictional quasi-experimental study. Preventive Medicine  [In-Progress]

Katapally TR, Thorisdottir AS, Laxer R, Qian W, Leatherdale S. The influence the changing school bullying policies and perception of school connectedness on multiple screen time behaviours among youth:  A cross-jurisdictional quasi-experimental study. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity [In-Progress].

Bhawra J, Robbins J, Katapally TR. A culturally appropriate evaluation framework for a land-based active living intervention among First Nations Youth. International Journal for Equity in Health [In-Progress].

Rainham D, Katapally TR. Relationship between recreation spaces and active living among children and youth. Health & Place. [In-Progress].

Collaborations

International Collaborations

Active Healthy Kids Global Alliance

Active Healthy Kids Global Alliance is a global network of researchers, health professionals, and stakeholders who are working together to advance physical activity in children and youth from around the world. Active Healthy Kids Global Alliance focuses on cross-jurisdictional policy advocacy across countries in North and South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia (https://www.activehealthykids.org/). As part of this Alliance, a Global Report Card on the Physical Activity of Children and Youth is developed every two years. The Global Report Card, which includes individual Report Cards from different countries, generates extensive global media attention, including in Canada, to raise awareness of the detrimental effects of physical inactivity in children and youth, and serves as a knowledge translation tool for policy makers. In November 2016, Report Cards for 38 countries were developed and global comparisons were presented at the International Congress on Physical Activity and Public Health in Bangkok, Thailand. The 2018 Report Cards are currently being developed, and Dr. Tarun Katapally is country leader for the India Report Card. These Report cards will be unveiled in December 2018 in Adelaide, Australia.

Active Healthy Kids India

To advance Global Health research and advocacy for active living policy, Dr. Tarun Katapally co-founded the non-profit organization, Active Healthy Kids India (https://www.activehealthykidsindia.com/). Active Healthy Kids India will not only address critical research gaps identified in the 2016 Report Card, but will also serve as a platform to raise funds, bring together stakeholders, and implement studies to generate evidence for the 2018 Report Card. Significant work has already been concluded and we have established research and data sharing agreements with collaborators in different centres. The first project being conducted in the mega cities of Delhi and Chennai is titled, “ SMART India,” and is an extension of SMART Study (www.smartstudysask.com).

Funding

The Population Health Research Lab is being funded by:

Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation   Canadian Institute for Health Research    The Lawson Foundation