TWU professor awarded CIHR grant

A generous grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) will help Rick Sawatzky, Ph.D., an associate professor in TWU’s School of Nursing, to put patients at the centre of health care decision-making. The three-year, $310,000 grant is the first-ever CIHR operational grant awarded to Trinity Western University.

Sawatzky, whose clinical background is in palliative care and medical nursing care, holds a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Patient-Reported Outcomes. His research program focuses on identifying the complex health care needs of people struggling with chronic, life-limiting illnesses, and assessing those needs based on the patient’s point of view. These patient-reported outcomes (PROMs) will provide valuable information, in a standardized language, that health care providers can use when treating patients.

The CIHR grant funds the development and utilization of statistical methods that will ensure health care professionals can make valid inferences based on those PROMs. “People may have different interpretations of their own health and quality of life, which may not be directly comparable to the scores of others,” Sawatzky said. “We need to adjust for that using statistical techniques.”

Sawatzky’s research team involves a nation-wide collaboration between the Canadian Institute of Health Information, the British Columbia Ministry of Health’s Patient Experience Measurement Steering Committee, and researchers from McGill University, the University of Manitoba, the University of Calgary, the University of Saskatchewan, and the University of British Columbia. “These partnerships help ensure that the voices of patients are accurately represented and used in health care decision making,” said Sawatzky. “It’s a huge societal value, putting patients at the centre of their own health care needs.”

The research team with work with knowledge users—including decision makers, patients and family caregivers, and other researchers—to develop the methods of assessment, and to help those knowledge users to understand and implement these methods.

“Every university has a responsibility to contribute to society, to the improvement of society, and in our case, to improve health care,” Sawatzky said. “This is one way for TWU to fulfill that responsibility.”

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