Inaugural Applied Public Health Chairs Meeting (2015)

March 23, 2015
Ottawa, Ontario


The 2015 Applied Public Health Chairs (APHC) Meeting was co-hosted by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research – Institute of Population and Public Health (CIHR-IPPH) and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC). This meeting represented the first opportunity for the newly appointed Chairs to meet one another, network, and learn from the experiences of past Chairs. The meeting was attended by the new APHC holders and some of their decision-making collaborators, past Chairs, program collaborators, and members from both the CIHR and PHAC teams.

Meeting Highlights

Thirteen of the fourteen APHCs had the chance to present their research in an "elevator pitch" format. The Chairs briefly outlined their research in a nutshell, the potential impact of their program, key opportunities, and tips/conundrums.

Several past Chairs offered advice and lessons learned to the new Chairs. For example, the importance of delegating and retaining long-term personnel was recommended. Chairs' programs of research should aim to be relevant to both researchers and practitioners. The importance of planning for sustainability starting at the beginning of the Chair funding was stressed. Also, the past Chairs highlighted the potential for the APHC title and position to be leveraged to gain access to public health leaders and lead to new collaborations.

An initial discussion of the evaluation and reporting requirements of this program were discussed. The Chairs will be required to report annually on a common set of outputs and outcomes, while at mid-term and summative points Chairs are expected to provide a more substantive progress report. Reports will be used by CIHR, PHAC and partners for accountability, to demonstrate impact, and to communicate publicly about the program. Reporting is an opportunity for the Chairs to take stock and reflect on progress.

Brief reflections were offered from the perspective of decision-makers and partners. The importance of utilizing appropriate language with various partners was discussed. Further, packaging research results to appeal to stakeholders is crucial. For example, policy makers are interested in the elevator pitch, therefore it is important for Chairs not to start with the complexity of their research. Collaborations with traditional and non-traditional partners are important.     

A portion of the day was dedicated to small group discussion; the following themes were identified as key by meeting participants:

  1. Community and policy/decision-maker involvement

    Participants proposed that there should be a community based co-chair appointed to complement the Chair and decision-making collaborator. This would allow communities to have a voice in priority setting.
    Regular meetings involving researchers and policy-makers/decision-makers should be integrated into the Chairs' program to allow for researchers to be kept informed of the current policy landscape.

  2. Common language

    The importance of finding a common language to share between the researchers, decision-making collaborators, and the community in which the research is being conducted was highlighted.

  3. Applied Public Health Chairs as leaders

    A strong national voice in public health is desperately needed and the Chairs could provide this voice. For example, the Chairs program could be branded as a national resource on public health. Mentorship for the APHCs was also identified as important.

  4. Graduate students/ trainees

    Participants suggested bringing the top graduate students together to work on creative solutions to problems and challenges faced by the Chairs. The importance of Chair and mentee networking was also identified as important.

  5. Information sharing

    It was noted that sharing across and between Chairs is very important, but it is also important to share results and lessons learned with the public health community more broadly. Participants recommended creating a network for open sharing and dialogue that includes partners, students and communities. An internal network should also be created to encourage open discussion of lessons learned, creativity, linkages, and student programs.

  6. Knowledge translation

    Participants suggested that the impacts of Chairs' annual reports could be synthesized and shared with key stakeholders. Specifically, a 1-page lay summary of the impact of research was recommended.
    Participants recognized that there is a bias towards successful projects; however, fruitful knowledge is also gained from failures. The APHCs will have a weighted position within their organization to address public health infrastructure knowledge needs. This position will enable them to disseminate their findings (successes and failures) openly.

The next Applied Public Health Chair meeting will be hosted in Spring 2016.

For more updates related to the Applied Public Health Chairs, please visit the 2014 Applied Public Health Chairs.

Please contact IPPH if you would like to request a full copy of the 2015 APHC Meeting Report.

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