Community-Based Primary Health Care in Canada: Improving Patient Health Outcomes and Building Research Capacity

Talk Code: 
Kathryn Nicholson
Kathryn Nicholson BHSc MSc PhD(c), Moira Stewart PhD, Martin Fortin MD MSc CMFC (F), Cross Teams Capacity Building Working Group Leadership Team
Author institutions: 
Western University (Ontario, Canada), Universite de Sherbrooke (Quebec, Canada)


In January 2012, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research launched the Community-Based Primary Health Care (CBPHC) Signature Initiative to fund innovative approaches to deliver high-quality primary health care to Canadians. Twelve CBPHC Teams were selected to conduct interdisciplinary, cross-jurisdictional research to improve patient health outcomes. In addition to senior researchers and international collaborators, these Teams include trainees at the undergraduate, graduate and post-doctoral level. Over five years, these Teams aim to build research capacity among early career researchers interested in academic primary health care.


A Capacity Building Committee of representatives from the Teams was created to provide superior training and mentorship opportunities. This Capacity Building Committee, led by M.S. and composed of eleven senior researchers from across Canada, has encouraged a trainee-led Working Group to organize and lead their own capacity building activities. This Cross Teams Capacity Building Working Group (CTCBWG), led by K.N. and composed of eighty-five trainees from across Canada, functions in partnership with the Capacity Building Committee. The Working Group’s mission is to enhance trainee involvement in the research community. Its goals are to encourage and facilitate educational, networking and community-building opportunities for early career researchers in academic primary health care.


The CTCBWG Leadership Team includes twelve trainees from across Canada. This Leadership Team conducted a Needs Assessment survey, which was distributed to all eighty-five trainees to determine areas of interest and needs in their development as academic researchers. This information was used to develop new initiatives and to build capacity through structure, content and process. The new structure includes the organization of Capacity Building Webinars, Virtual Coffee Breaks and an Online Community. The Capacity Building Webinars and Virtual Coffee Breaks are designed to offer a platform for trainees to present their research and to discuss relevant topics or methodologies in primary health care research. The content discussed by the trainees include the topics of measurement, multimorbidity, patient-centred care and the burden for caregivers of complex patients. Trainees have also been able to benefit from tacit learning, particularly by observing the principal investigators in their leadership of interdisciplinary, cross-jurisdictional research teams. Finally, an Online Community has been created using social media to facilitate networking and an interactive community among junior and senior researchers in academic primary health care.


The CBPHC Teams aim to improve patient health outcomes and research capacity for academic primary health care in Canada. Not only will this research address the dynamic health needs of Canadians, it will also meet the needs of CBPHC trainees. To date, research capacity has been achieved through structure, content and process. Future capacity building efforts will focus on building a larger community of trainees, as well as enhanced mentorship opportunities for trainees.

Submitted by: 
Kathryn Nicholson
Funding acknowledgement: 
Kathryn Nicholson is supported by the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry and the Ontario Graduate Scholarship. Dr. Moira Stewart holds the Dr. Brian W. Gilbert Canada Research Chair in Primary Health Care Research. Dr. Martin Fortin holds an Applied Chair in Health Services and Policy Research on Chronic Diseases in Primary Care. Funding is also provided by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Community-Based Primary Health Care Signature Initiatives.