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Nursing team collects major research award

By Sharon Gray | Sept. 24, 2008

The 2008 Primary Care Researcher of the Year Award went the Community Health Assessment Team (CHAT) from Memorial University’s School of Nursing.

The award from the Faculty of Medicine’s Primary Healthcare Research Unit was presented to team member Dr. Sandra MacDonald at the annual meeting of the Atlantic Practice Based Research Network, held in conjunction with the annual scientific assembly of the Newfoundland and Labrador Chapter of the College of Family Physician of Canada in Corner Brook Sept. 18.

The CHAT team has been working together for the past 15 years, conducting regional community assessments studies across the island and in Labrador. CHAT is a five-member team with experience in community health needs and resources assessment, epidemiology, program evaluation, cardiology, community and family health, adult health and mental health. In addition to Dr. MacDonald, the team members are Donna Best, Judith Blakeley, Lorna Bennett and Creina Twomey.

CHAT’s most recent project took place in western Newfoundland. The Community Health Needs and Resources Assessment looked at health benefits and practices, satisfaction with existing health and community services, and community issues and concerns.

Using a population health approach to guide their research, the team worked closely with the regional health and community authorities to involve communities in the strategic planning of future services and programs.

Over 2,000 household participated in the research, representing over 6,000 Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, and more than 60 key informant interviews and 30 focus groups were conducted. The findings from the studies have been used by senior management teams and the governing authorities to help them make decisions about the future strategic directions for services and to develop policies and programs aimed at improving the health status of specific populations within the regions.

The team has presented their findings at regional, provincial, national and international conferences and published excerpts from the studies in national journals. “It is interesting to note that here in the Western region, the study is currently being repeated and as we speak and the findings are being discussed by the senior management team of Western Health,” said Dr. MacDonald.