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Enhancing Primary Care Through Research Collaboration

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

Canadians see a primary care provider at multiple points in life: from well-baby visits to end-of-life planning. A primary care provider could be a family physician, nurse practitioner, or other trained health professional and are generally the first called when people have a health concern.

The McMaster University Department of Family Medicine is launching the David Braley Primary Care Research Collaborative, a research collective focused on advancing knowledge to strengthen primary care in Canada and across the globe through proactive research programs relevant to the issues of today.

“Research in primary care is critically important to improving health,” said David Price, professor and chair of the department of family medicine. “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.”

Researchers, clinicians and staff in the department are engaged in practice-based research focused on building innovative systems of primary care. The team is working on initiatives to enhance the care that people receive, to improve access to health care particularly for people in greatest need and to change the way the next generation of clinicians are trained.

Through the David Braley Primary Care Research Collaborative, the department will bring together researchers, clinicians, educators and partners to work on issues that will address the diverse needs of our 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.

Capacity building and mentorship are key goals of the collaborative, says Dee Mangin, professor, David Braley Chair in Family Medicine and associate chair of research for the department.

“Primary care clinicians ask questions every day,” she said. “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 primary care clinicians. The collaborative aims to empower clinicians, educators and researchers to turn these wonderings into research that will answer those questions for all of us. This work will inform all educators, clinicians and policymakers interested in strong primary care, better health outcomes, and reducing health inequity”

The David Braley Primary Care Research Collaborative is launching with a $4 million investment, seeded by a $1 million donation from Hamilton businessman David Braley. This collaborative is the first of its kind in Canada, with the largest endowment supporting a research collaborative in primary care.

“David Braley has long been a supporter of primary care, and I would like to thank him for his generous support in establishing this collaborative”, said McMaster University President David Farrar.

Research studies that illustrate the work of the collaborative include CP@Clinic which brings paramedics regularly into subsidized housing to assess individuals’ health risks; TAPER which studies how to reduce medication burden for older adults; a prison health research program regarding health care of incarcerated people; an Indigenous Teaching Through Art program to increase health professionals’ knowledge of Indigenous people; and Health TAPESTRY which has trained volunteers do home visits to improve the connection between health care teams and community resources. Beyond these examples, we are leading research on many more innovative models of care and education.

The Department of Family Medicine includes the Divisions of Palliative Care and Emergency Medicine. The department operates three clinics in Hamilton: McMaster Family Practice, Stonechurch Family Health Centre and the Maternity Centre of Hamilton. The department’s residency program includes seven sites across Ontario, training over 200 family medicine residents each year as well as a number of enhanced skills positions. The department established MUSIC (McMaster University Sentinel and Information Collaboration), a practice based research network, to support primary care research. The research enterprise has grown rapidly and manages over $10 million in grant funding annually.

The David Braley Primary Care Research Collaborative will strengthen primary care in Canada and beyond.

    • McMaster University Department of Family Medicine
    • David Braley Health Sciences Centre
    • 100 Main Street West, 6th Floor
    • Hamilton, ON L8P 1H6
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