SPHERU engages in population health research – the study of social factors contributing to the well-being of various groups within the population.

Welcome to SPHERU

The Saskatchewan Population Health and Evaluation Research Unit is a bi-university health research unit based at the Universities of Regina and Saskatchewan. Since 1999, SPHERU has established itself as a leader in cutting edge population health research that not only looks at what and the why of health inequities -– but also how to address these and take action.

What’s Happening at SPHERU

SPHERU post-doc publishes study on midwifery…

SPHERU post-doctoral fellow Daphne McRae recently published a study in the British Medical Journal Open, on the benefits of midwifery for low-income pregnant women. Based on the study, McRae, who is also a post-doctoral fellow at the University of British Columbia, found that women with low-incomes experienced fewer birth complications when receiving prenatal care from midwives compared to physicians. The pregnant women who received care from a midwife were less likely to go into early labour, have a baby with a low birth weight, or have a small-for-gestational age birth. “Our findings show that women who are more vulnerable benefit from the care of a midwife, likely because they receive more time, counselling and education on how to care for themselves,” McRae said in the U of S article. McRae and her supervisor, Nazeem Muhajarine, were featured in articles on the U of S website, as well as the Star Phoenix. “Our research could help develop policies that make the service more accessible to low-income women,” Muhajarine said in the article. McRae and Muhajarine wrote about their findings from the study on The Conversation Canada. The same piece was also picked up by The National Post.  For the full published study, find it on the BMJ Open website.

SPHERU scan reveals gaps in aging strategies

What sort of interventions exist across Canada to support the nation’s aging rural population?  SPHERU researchers recently published, “An Overview of Healthy Aging Strategies in Rural and Urban Canada.” This the scan keeps track of healthy aging frameworks and interventions that currently exist across Canada at the federal and provincial/territorial levels of government. By taking into account what already exists, this publication can help provide a foundation for future planning to support older adults in rural communities and beyond. The scan found that there are “Important gaps in the distribution of healthy aging strategies across Canada.” Frameworks and interventions are largely decentralized, causing provincial/territorial governments to develop their own actions to support healthy aging. Saskatchewan was found to be the only province to not have developed a healthy aging strategy. “This scan found that having a provincial seniors’ secretariat or ministry was key to the development, coordination, and promotion of healthy aging initiatives,” the report reads. “Every province except Newfoundland, Saskatchewan, and the three territories were identified as having senior secretariats or ministries.” SPHERU’s Bonnie Jeffery, Nazeem Muhajarine, Shanthi Johnson, Tom McIntosh, Nuelle Novik, and Colleen Hamilton contributed to the study. SPHERU would also like to acknowledge the contributions of Kylee Wilyman, Juanita Bacsu, and Aisha Siddique. Check out the full environmental scan here.

Bonnie Jeffery nominated to GENC

SPHERU’s Bonnie Jeffery has been nominated to be part of the Gender Equality Network Canada (GENC). She is one of 130 leaders from across the country selected to participate in a unique initiative to advance gender equality.  Jeffery was nominated by Catholic Family Services in Prince Albert.  "I was pleased to accept the nomination to be part of this important initiative," Jeffery said. "The national focus of the work will serve to highlight the many issues facing women that still need to be addressed." She noted that the network will provide "an opportunity to hear from women in rural and remote areas of the country." During the next three years, these women will work together to: advocate for policy changes build inclusive intersectional leadership take collective action to advance gender equality in Canada address systemic change on women’s equality facilitate national collaboration for action These leaders were nominated by community organizations working on local projects to advance gender equality. Each GENC leader brings significant experience working for women’s equality in their communities across a wide range of disciplines and fields. CENC is facilitated by the Canadian Women’s Foundation and funded by Status of Women Canada. Further information is available at www.canadianwomen.org/our-work/gender-equality-network-canada/

RISC working to change perception of seniors

Linda Anderson, Media and Ageism project coordinator with the Saskatchewan Seniors Mechanism (SSM), recently spoke with paNOW about working to change the perception of older adults in the media. The SSM project is using media monitoring tools to track and evaluate media reporting on issues involving older adults. Stories coming from radio, newspapers and television can influence how older adults are viewed. Many stories in the media involving older adults were about age milestones, retirement, or used terms such as "spry" or "feisty."  The SSM program is one of a handful of projects under the Reducing Isolation of Seniors Collective (RISC). The collective also includes the Alzheimer's Society of Saskatchewan, the Canadian Red Cross (Saskatchewan), and the Lifelong Learning Centre at the University of Regina. Each organization is conducting one or more projects that address social isolation of older adults. Guiding the work of teh collective is the Saskatchewan Impact Plan, outlining the goals and outcomes for each organization's RISC projects.  With funding from the New Horizons for Seniors program through Employment and Social Development Canada, SPHERU, has been collaborating with provincial agencies to evaluate the effectiveness of programs to reduce social isolation experienced by older adults in Saskatchewan. Leading the team of SPHERU researchers is Dr. Bonnie Jeffery, along with Evaluation Oversight Committee members Dr. Tom McIntosh, Dr. Nuelle Novik, and Dr. Chad Nilson of Living Skies centre for Social Inquiry. SPHERU's role in the collective is to conduct an evaluation to assess the outcomes of teh Saskatchewan Impact Plan. paNOW's full story is available online. 

SPHERU student wins CPHA award

SPHERU trainee Larisa Lotoski received the Dr. John Hastings Student Award during the Canadian Public Health Association’s (CPHA) 2018 Public Health Conference last month. Larisa’s abstract was selected as the best student research paper (PhD) at the CPHA scientific meetings in Montreal. The award is named after Dr. Hastings and his commitment to and belief in students as the future of public health in Canada. Ten of the top-rated student abstract submissions were selected and presented in a three-minute thesis style format during a special session at the conference. Larisa, a PhD candidate in the Department of Community Health and Epidemiology at the U of S, was announced the winner after all 10 submissions were judged by the panel and independently by the audience Her paper was entitled, “Season, demographics and built environment features predict sedentary behavior in 9-14-year-old Canadian Children.” Under the supervision of Dr. Nazeem Muhajarine, Larisa has been studying the results of the Seasonality and Active Saskatoon’s Kids Study (SASK), which ran from 2014-2015. The study sought to better understand how seasonal changes and neighbourhood design can effect children’s physical activity and sedentary behaviours throughout the year. The study found that children in newer, safer, and activity friendly, were more sedentary as a result of fewer amenities when compared to children in other neighbourhoods with more things to see and do. The Office of VP Research also wrote a profile and highlighted Larisa's work on the study and on receiving the award.  Congratulations on this outstanding achievement, Larisa! CBC Saskatoon  

SPHERU researcher moving to U of A

University of Alberta recently announced SPHERU research faculty Dr. Shanthi Johnson as its next dean, School of Public Health. Her appointment will begin July 1, 2018. Shanthi has led important research projects and has been an active collaborator and mentor during her time with SPHERU, which began January 2007. Shanthi has been a tireless and inspiring contributor to teaching, research, and community engagement through and as part of her research. We know how skillful she is at identifying the next important research questions, the way she is able to clarify ideas, and her ability to inspire her students and colleagues. These skills, and more, have made Shanthi a true colleague, a mentor, and a friend. While we will miss her, we are also delighted that she has found this wonderful opportunity. We wish her the very best in her new role. Congratulations, Shanthi!


Photo Credit(s):
Northern and Aboriginal Health (Errol Sutherland), Rural Health (Sharianne Caffet), Intervention Research (Hilary Gough), Healthy Children (Thilina Bandara), History of Health Inequities (History of Health in Saskatchewan: An Interactive Timeline)