The Population Health Improvement Research Network (PHIRN) was established by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care (MOHLTC) in September 2009. It is administered from the University of Ottawa under the scientific directorship of Ivy Lynn Bourgeault. PHIRN is structured into two separate yet conceptually overlapping thematic, or research, programs:
- Patterns and Pathways of Inequity co-led by Dr. Ronald Labonté and Dr. Carlos Quinonez, &
- Population Health Interventions co-led by Dr. Douglas Manual and Dr. James Dunn.
The co-leads, the Scientific Director and PHIRN’s Scientific Manager, Corinne Packer, together make up the PHIRN Executive.
The three main objectives of PHIRN and its research programs are to:
- undertake more and better population health research in Ontario/with an Ontario focus;
- enhance production and user capacity in population health research in the province; and
- better inform policy and practice related to population health in the province.
The ultimate goal is to improve the overall health of Ontarians while improving health equity.
One of the core means by which PHIRN aims to achieve its objectives is by creating a series of research infrastructure tools. One of these tools is a working bibliography of the equity and intervention focused population health research undertaken in the province. By creating such a bibliography, we anticipated this would improve the dissemination and utilization of existing population health knowledge. Having better knowledge of what has already been done in the province would minimize the duplication of research efforts so that we could build on each other’s research in a more constructive and collaborative fashion.
Creating this bibliography would also form an excellent basis for a review and descriptive synthesis of the research undertaken in the province. To this end, the PHIRN Executive decided to go one step further and undertake this Scoping Review. We anticipated this would enable us to better understand the field of population health research in the province answering a series of critically important research questions:
- What are the primary areas of population health research undertaken in the province?
- Who is primarily undertaking this research and where? and
- What are the gaps related to population health equity and interventions research?
Knowing what we do, where and the gaps that remain helps to inform the various activities that PHIRN will undertake during its mandate.
In what follows, we detail the inclusion and exclusion criteria employed in creating the Ontario Population Health Bibliography as well as the methodological approach we undertook to review and create a descriptive synthesis of this literature. We also situate this literature in the context of other population health literature reviews nationally and internationally. We conclude with the key ‘take home’ messages that emerged from this review.
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