WOMEN'S HEALTH RESEARCH
There are three research areas within this domain
- Evaluation of Women's & Children's Health Outcomes
- Exploration of Ethical issues Facing Women
- Economics and Health Policy
1. Women’s and Children’s Health Informatics, Outcomes
Thirty years ago, we started to collect information on risk factors for “delivered” patients and those struggling to become pregnant through the infertility program and as a result we now have the most comprehensive obstetrical and infertility databases in Canada. Our research goal is to improve women’s and children’s health by building interdisciplinary, collaborative teams to secure, explore and enhance this vast body of data. Various department members’ research is focused on utilizing our Urogynaecological, infertility, perinatal and neonatal databases and those in other centres. Our researchers work either alone or in concert with research teams across Canada and the globe.
explores innovative ways to capture, process, interpret and analyze health information while maintaining privacy and security.
For example: In collaboration with Lawson Research Institute and the Waterloo Institute of Health Informatics Research we will soon trial a pilot database using a new system for data storage and analysis which will enhance data security, data reliability and ensure long term access.
creates technology platforms to discover and optimize linkages among
databases thereby broadening the approach to women and children’s health issues, which allows a better understanding of the relationships among various conditions.
For example: We look forward to being able to provide information to couples with infertility about their potential pregnancy and infant outcomes based on analysis of local data.
promotes translational health outcomes research. Our clinical scientists
translate the research findings into practices and therapies that will improve
the care patients receive.
For example: We are collecting cells from women with ovarian cancer to determine the factors that may influence their response to therapies as well as disease outcomes.
2. Ethics Research Unit
examines ways of promoting informed choice for woman
making decisions regarding promotion of their health,
prevention of disease and treatment
options once cancer
or other disorders are diagnosed.
For example: We explore such issues as how to ensure patients can make an informed choice related to fertility preservation in young women and children undergoing cancer treatments, umbilical cord blood banking, genetic testing and stem cell research.
explores ways of improving timely access to counseling and
For example: We investigate how to provide timely access to counselling that might prevent cancer or improve prompt access to cancer treatment and therapies directed to other diseases of women.
explores ways of including the public in health policy making
in order to
promote more diversity and insight into policy
decisions that affect women. We explore ways to educate the public regarding women's health problems, so that women can participate in and ultimately share the responsibility for their own health promotion and disease prevention.
For example: Our research has developed strategies for including the public, using theatre as a research and education tool, and devised interactive research opportunities with the general public.
integrates our research findings on informed choice and optimum access to counselling to help patients make difficult ethical decisions.
For example: Our research helps parents make decisions regarding the health of children born in complex pregnancies, such as those complicated by premature labour or when there is the potential to choose fetal surgery.
involves investigators of many disciplines, including: ethics, law, biomedical
science, health policy, and clinical medicine, and include members of the
Departments of Pediatrics and Oncology.
3. Economics and Health Policy Research
evaluates the costs and benefits of various treatment strategies
For example: Our research examines the costs of genetic profiling in breast cancer treatment against the benefits of being able to better target treatment. We look at both how many lives would be saved and how the quality of life would be improved by such targeted treatment against the increased costs of implementing genetic profiling.
Investigates the impact of practice variations on costs and health outcomes
For example: Currently pregnant patients with similar conditions could be treated differently. One doctor might perform a C-section whereas the other might suggest a trial of labour. These two options have significantly different costs while the health result (outcome) might be the same. We explore such issues and develop recommendations as to which approach is the most cost effective.
Determines the optimal resource allocation strategies in hospitals
For example: We are looking at establishing benchmarks for the optimal number of neonatal intensive care beds that a hospital should have given a certain population. Another area of focus is try to determine the optimal resource allocation for a hospital’s operating budget by investigating for example what percentage to allocate to hospital beds, what percentage to doctors fees and what percentage to nurses salaries etc to achieve the most cost effective health outcomes.
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