Survey any Canadian community and you’re bound to find health inequalities–some people are far healthier than others. Many think these gaps stem from poor choices and self-control, or not having the right knowledge. But research shows that health inequalities are primarily caused by unequal access to the conditions and resources needed to live a healthy life.
In her research program, Dr. Benita Cohen uses a social justice lens to focus on public health approaches to reducing health inequalities.
Cohen developed a framework of organizational capacity public health equality action (OC-PHEA). Now she’s exploring ways to use OC-PHEA in public health practice and strengthen the role of public health advocacy for health equity and social justice.
She has also tested whether the health equity assessment, audit, action tool (HEAT) can enhance equity considerations in population health promotion programs, and conducted equity scans of Canadian tobacco control programs and a planned parenting program.
Cohen is an associate professor in the College of Nursing with an appointment in the department of community health sciences, both in the faculty of health sciences at the University of Manitoba.
Dr. Donna Martin is an associate professor in the College of Nursing whose research focuses on health equity and social justice from the perspective and lived experience of marginalized groups.
Currently she is a co-principal investigator on a CIHR-funded study to explicate the micro- and macro-construction of induced displacement from the perspectives of Little Saskatchewan First Nation youth impacted by the 2011 human-made flood.
Dr. Elaine Mordoch researches treatment, rights and responsibilities of both society and people with mental illness and their families; and societal stigma towards mental illness.
Dr. Annette Schultz is an associate professor at the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Nursing.
Approximately 47,000 Canadians die each year from tobacco-related illness. These rates are especially high amongst socially disadvantaged individuals, including people living with HIV/AIDS, and are considered a public health priority. To address these issues, Schultz is developing tobacco control initiatives that embrace and incorporate principles of social justice and health equity.
In one related project, Schultz is co-leading a unique environmental scan study. This study will show how tobacco control initiatives address tobacco use amongst vulnerable populations through strategies that address root causes. The study will also compare these strategies to individual behaviour change interventions. Schultz and her research team plan to use their findings to create better research tools, and to inform policies and programs that support reducing tobacco use and health inequities among Canadians who are most likely to start and continue to smoke.
Dr. Lynn Scruby is an assistant professor in the faculty of nursing. Her areas of specialization include health promotion in the community, community health assessment and health care policy. Scruby’s research program is in the area of community health, in both urban and rural contexts.
Her current research examines how inner-city communities build capacity for population health promotion, collaborate for common policy goals and promote health equity and social justice. Her focus is addressing social justice and equity issues in marginalized and vulnerable populations. This includes identifying directions for programs and policies and initiating knowledge transfer activities. She has also conducted research on the work of community health nurses and their role in policy activities through the lens of feminist research and qualitative methodology.
Dr. Scruby has also worked closely with other researchers to explore the role of social support and sports participation in rural women’s health using a Photovoice approach.
Dr. Kellie Thiessen is an Assistant Professor and Director of the Midwifery Program in the College of Nursing at the University of Manitoba. Her research seeks to identify innovative models of maternity care to improve perinatal and system level outcomes. Her research often involves the analysis of outcomes and costs associated with three types of maternity care providers in Manitoba: family practice physicians, obstetricians/gynecologists and registered midwives.
Currently, Dr. Thiessen is collaborating with Katherine Whitecloud on a project that is exploring maternal healthcare delivery systems and services across four remote Canadian jurisdictions. Specifically this study is focused on integrating Indigenous knowledge, values, teachings, and stories with Western world views, with a particular aim of improving the health of communities by bringing back teachings regarding the ‘Sacred Spirit’ [child] to help prepare community members for ‘life-giving’ across the childbearing continuum (preconception, pregnancy, birth and post-delivery).
Dr. Roberta Woodgate is a nursing professor at the University of Manitoba. She has a cross appointment in pediatrics and child health in the faculty of medicine and a scientist appointment with the Manitoba Institute of Child Health. Woodgate holds a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair Award in Child and Family Engagement in Health Research and Healthcare and was a former Applied Chair in Reproductive, Child and Youth Health Services and Policy Research.
The goal of Woodgate’s research is to understand and improve the quality of health and health care in children of all ages.
Most parents and guardians instinctively act to protect their children − especially ill children; however, in trying to protect their children, parents sometimes neglect to ask the questions that will empower children to understand and explain their illness, health experience, and needs to caregivers. Woodgate’s research provides children of all ages the opportunity to explain how they perceive their illness and health experiences. Her work also helps children to explain what illness and health means to them in the context of their own life situations.
In another line of research, Woodgate studies the ethics of child health research. Her findings are helping to develop and improve policies to guide research ethic boards, researchers and families in involving children in research.
Woodgate has received more than $1 million in funding, as well as numerous awards, including a Manitoba Health Research Council Establishment Award, a Canadian Cancer Society Research Scientist Award, and a Canadian Institutes of Health Research New Investigator Award. During the Centennial Year of the Canadian Nurses Association, she was one of 14 Canadian nurses recognized by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Health Minister Tony Clement for their contributions to the health system and the health of Canadians.
In collaboration with Royal Winnipeg Ballet Aspirant Program director and choreographer Philippe-Alexandre Jacques and Wookey Films, Dr. Woodgate recently developed a series of 5 dance vignettes that highlighted her research on youth experiences living with anxiety.