Department of Emergency Medicine faculty among research team to commence study on impact of emergency care workforce policy on health equity

An international, interdisciplinary team of researchers, which includes two Department of Emergency Medicine (DEM) faculty members, have been awarded a Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) planning grant to begin work on a first-of-its-kind comparative research study on the relationship between emergency care workforce policy and health equity in four countries – Canada, Australia, Rwanda and South Africa.

Led by Dr. Veena Sriram, Assistant Professor at UBC School of Population and Public Health and the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs, the partnership includes Dr. Riyad Abu-Laban, Professor in the DEM and Scientific Director of the BC Emergency Medicine (EM) Network, and Dr. Simon Pulfrey, Clinical Associate Professor in the DEM, prior faculty in emergency medicine at the University of Rwanda and member of the DEM Global Emergency Medicine Interest Group.

Dr. Abu-Laban will provide insights on Canadian emergency care workforce policy and the impact of workforce policy on equity in B.C., Canada and globally.

“This project is highly aligned with the vision of the DEM to promote excellence in emergency care, and the vision of the BC EM Network to ensure that care is exceptional regardless of location.” said Dr. Abu-Laban.

Dr. Pulfrey will serve as a knowledge user by incorporating a focus on translating research into practice in different contexts.

“Forging a more complete systemic understanding of how care is delivered and fostered in different locations is a critical piece of the puzzle that aims to optimize access to robust emergency medical care anywhere,” said Dr. Pulfrey. “It is a real privilege to be a part of this diverse and experienced group of investigators trying to do just that.”

Equitable access to timely, quality emergency health care services is a longstanding health challenge globally, including in B.C., and workforce challenges are a major contributor to inequitable access to emergency care. As studies on emergency care workforce policy remain limited, this research is required to gain a comprehensive understanding of emergency care workforce challenges concerning coverage and cultural safety, workforce integration, and performance and quality.

Dr. Sriram will provide overall leadership of the project and contribute expertise on health workforce policy, governance and comparative qualitative case studies.

“Understanding and addressing policy barriers to strengthening the emergency care workforce requires insights from several disciplines and fields – including emergency medicine, public health and public policy – and from different contexts,” said Dr. Sriram. “I am excited to work with my colleagues on our next steps in developing these ideas and this partnership.”

The partnership team also includes researchers from James Cook University in Australia, the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Kigali in Rwanda and Stellenbosch University in South Africa.

Initial activities are underway, including virtual meetings for proposal development and environmental scanning, to provide a foundation for a CIHR operating research proposal to be submitted in 2023.