PHIRN: Population Health Improvement Research Network


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brenda_bruner-3Dr. Brenda Bruner

Is an Assistant Professor in the School of Physical and Health Education, Schulich School of Education at Nipissing University. Her research program focuses on community-based health promotion research and centers on the prevention of chronic disease in a variety of populations including women, inactive adults, older adults, youth, and Aboriginal peoples.

Most recently, Dr. Bruner has been working with Dr. Lucie Lévesque in the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies at Queen's University and Kingston Gets Active (KGA), a partnership between municipal, education, health, social, and recreation sectors, to explore the effectiveness of an intervention to enhance participation in physical activity among Grade 9 students who received a Community Physical Activity Pass. The intent of the Community Physical Activity Pass is to create a supportive environment for youth physical activity by providing all Grade 9 students in Kingston and surrounding townships with free access to 11 PA facilities (6 arenas, 3 pools, the YMCA and Invista Multiplex) at designated times for 8 months.

Over 90% of Canadian youth are not meeting physical activity (PA) guidelines. Low levels of PA tend to persist into adulthood, perpetuating health risks as individuals' age. Adolescents consistently report cost and lack of access to recreational facilities as barriers to PA and have suggested that reducing user-fees would increase PA. Reducing facility user-fees through the Community Physical Activity Pass, thereby addressing the most prominent barriers, has the potential to increase PA levels among adolescents.

The Grade 9 Physical Activity Pass project builds upon existing knowledge from an evaluation of a similar pass provided to Grade 10 students in 2007. The current project added a promotional campaign through Peer Ambassadors to increase student awareness and enhance uptake of the Pass program. Six schools (3 intervention and 3 control) participated in the study. The schools were matched according to size, location and socioeconomic status and then randomized to the intervention group (enhanced promotion with peer ambassadors) or the comparison group (standard promotion). The role of the peer ambassadors were to act as positive role models for PA, increase awareness of PA and its benefits, help lead promotional initiatives for the Pass in their schools, and position PA as "cool". The data analysis of this "natural experiment" is currently underway and findings will be presented at PHIRN's 'Building a Healthier Ontario' forum.


stephanie_montesanti-3Stephanie Montesanti

Is a doctoral candidate in the Health Policy PhD Program at McMaster University. Through the opportunities provided in the OTC program, Stephanie hopes to increase her understanding of community participation initiatives involving marginalized communities in local health system planning. Community participation in local health system decision-making has been viewed as an essential strategy to improve the design and planning of health care services, particularly in underserved areas. Her doctoral project involves a multiple case study analysis of community health centres (CHCs) in the province of Ontario. A key characteristic of CHCs in the development of health care services at the local level is the involvement of community residents in the planning of health services. She hopes that this work will provide a better understanding of effective community participation strategies that influence local health system planning, and in turn optimize population health and reduce health disparities of marginalized communities. Stephanie is also a recipient of the Ontario Graduate Scholarship (OGS) for 2011-2012.

Stephanie's previous experiences include working with community-based organizations on research projects in the area of population health and community health interventions. She has professional experience in international development projects, assisting in research projects in Krong Kep, Cambodia since 2007 on maternal health. She completed a Master's in Medical Anthropology at the University of Toronto. Following the completion of her training, Stephanie hopes to continue her career as a health services and policy researcher with expertise in health policy, health system planning, and knowledge translation in health services research.


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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 17 April 2012 07:51 )