Record-breaking year for research in IH
Interior Health broke historical records for research in the 2015/16 fiscal year with 73 research study applications approved by its Research Ethics Board – a 30% increase over the previous busiest year in 2013/14.
“Research is critical for us to continue to advance health-care treatments and improve health- care outcomes in B.C.,” noted Health Minister Terry Lake. “Interior Health should be congratulated for a record-breaking number of research projects being conducted, as well as the many research partnerships it is developing with educational institutions right across the province.”
The University of British Columbia continues to be the primary source for new research studies at Interior Health, accounting for more than half of all studies submitted for ethical review. UBC Okanagan was the academic institution of 16 principal investigators, almost matching the 18 from UBC Vancouver, and 18 from UBC Vancouver research-affiliated organizations including the BC Cancer Agency and BC Children’s’ Hospital. Royal Roads University, the University of Victoria and Thompson Rivers University rounded out the B.C. post-secondary institutions affiliated with principal investigators undertaking research within Interior Health.
The health authority’s Research Strategy identifies health services and population health as target areas of focus.
Over the past fiscal year, 80% of all research conducted within IH fell within one of these two target strategies. Aligning with another recommendation of the Research Strategy, approximately 40% of all research studies occurred outside of acute care sites.
“Our current focus is on realigning our health-care resources with a goal to shift the focus of health care from acute care to community programs and services,” noted Interior Health Board Chair Erwin Malzer. “Focusing our Research Strategy on these important system shifts allows us to gain new knowledge that can be applied to improve our service delivery to more effectively and sustainably meet the needs of our patients and communities.”
Student-led research projects have had a huge impact on the number and types of studies approved by the Research Ethics Board. Last fiscal year 38 student-led projects were approved, of which 20 studies were led by Interior Health employees pursuing graduate degrees.
“Continuing education and development of our approximately 21,000 staff and physicians is a priority for Interior Health,” noted Vice President of Human Resources and Organizational Development Mal Griffin. “The growing number of our staff pursuing graduate degrees to enhance their own learning and translating their learning in the workplace only strengthens Interior Health’s reputation as an employer where the best and brightest can excel.”
Interior Health’s Research Ethics Board is responsible for providing ethical review for all research involving humans that includes: IH employees, physicians or patients including their data, and IH facilities, programs or services. The board meets the criteria for research ethics in Canada, as set out in the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans, written by the three national research-granting agencies: the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.