Toronto, ON – Held May 12-15, the 2014 Canadian Association of Health Services and Policy Research (CAHSPR) conference is an annual event that connects researchers and decision-makers to further health services and policy research. This year, over 600 delegates attended the conference from Canada and the world, making it the largest Canadian gathering of health policy researchers and decision-makers.
Acknowledged this year at the CAHSPR conference were three students from the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School - Olena Kapral (PhD), Caroline Beck (MPP) and Jonathan Harris (MPP), two of whom were recognized with national awards. Supervised by Canada Research Chair, Greg Marchildon, all three students are involved in the Western Regional Training Centre for Health Services Research (WRTC) program.
"From the beginning, our WRTC students have participated actively in the CAHSPR conference. Their value added to the conference has been their clear policy perspective and I am delighted that they are being recognized for their contributions by being selected to present and, this year, by receiving two national awards," said Marchildon.
CAHSPR received a record-breaking number of abstracts and were only able to accept less than 30%. Of those accepted were two abstracts written by Caroline Beck and Olena Krapal, both of whom presented their preliminary research findings at the three-day conference.
“Overall, I found the conference to be very interesting, and particularly enjoyed attending the sessions that focused on health economics using the specific type of analysis that I will be using in my own thesis (Quality-Adjusted Life Years, or QALYs)”, said Beck, whose research examines whether the allocation of health care dollars in prevention of chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, reduces the likelihood of later, more expensive, biomedical care. “As far as we know, there is currently nobody at the University of Regina using this type of analysis; therefore this exposure to the methodological challenges and considerations was extremely helpful for my upcoming work.”
Entitled, "A Policy Evaluation of Upstream Cardiovascular Interventions in Two Saskatchewan Health Regions", Beck’s poster provided a comparative look at cardiovascular prevention and management programs in the Regina Qu'Appelle and Saskatoon Health Regions. She found that the two Regional Health Authorities differed in the way they've approached upstream cardiovascular programming and her study compared and contrasted them on a number of criteria: (1) Alignment with social determinants and holistic health models, (2) Patient navigation, (3) Continuity of programming, (4) Implications for budgets and spending, and (5) Cardiovascular outcomes. Beck’s analysis presented a framework for which she can evaluate these health regions to better understand some of the key differences in orienting and managing similar upstream health programs, and provided context for future analysis into cost-effectiveness.
Kapral’s presentation, entitled “The Enhancement of the Scopes of Pharmacists’ Practice: A Comparative Analysis of the Regulatory Frameworks in Saskatchewan and Ontario”, provided a comparative analysis of the legislation and regulation that govern health professions in Saskatchewan and Ontario, two provinces committed to supporting team-based care models by enhancing the scope of pharmacists’ practice as a mechanism to facilitate collaboration among health providers. Her results found that the regulatory frameworks had little impact on enhancing the scope of pharmacists’ practices but, instead, the regulatory changes were the result of the nature of the discursive interactions in each province. Although little evidence suggests that the changes in the scopes of pharmacists’ practices actually facilitate collaboration among health providers, they have allowed pharmacists in both provinces to be more responsive to their patients’ needs. Kapral’s next steps are to evaluate how the funding models, education and training implemented in each province for team-based case have affected the ability of pharmacists to integrate their roles within primary care teams. For her work, Kapral was presented with the CAHSPR Health Human Resources Theme Group Best Student/Trainee Presentation Award.
In addition to the two presentations, JSGS student Jonathan Harris was awarded the Justice Emmett Hall Memorial Foundation 2014 Master’s Student Essay Award. The Hall Foundation runs the annual essay content for students writing on topics in health services or health policy. “It is a true honour to be recognized by the Hall Foundation, an organization that does vital work in preserving the legacy of one of the fathers of Canadian Medicare,” says Harris.
Harris’ essay, titled "Access to residential long-term care in Canada: The influence of the policy legacies of the Canada Health Act" deals with one policy dilemma created by the fact that continuing care falls outside of Medicare's insured services.
This year’s CAHSPR conference is entitled, “Convergence of Health Policy and Evidence – Bridge Over Troubled Water”, focused on aspects related to evidence-informed policy and decision making. As evident from the plenary sessions, the conference provided a prime opportunity for researchers and policy makers to share their insight on issues such as child and maternal health, primary health care, mental health, collaborative healthcare improvement partnerships, applied research in cancer care and health human resources.