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Strategic areas of research

Looking forward

Much has been done to advance the health of individuals, patients, and populations through research and evidence-informed policies. That said, there is growing recognition that people and populations are complex in physical, social and demographic structures, and do not respond to environments, treatments or care in the same way. 

Progress requires recognition of the special needs and challenges of individuals and population subgroups in order to improve the health and minimize health inequities of all individuals over their life course. More specifically, we recognize that:

  • Epidemiological approaches that attempt to understand complexity and heterogeneity across individuals and subgroups can lead to:
    • tailored and improved healthcare accessibility
    • interventions prognosis and management of chronic disease
    • improved health outcomes
  • We can advance our understanding of health through concepts such as multi-morbidity and frailty, which reflect co-occurring conditions involving multiple systems leading to increased vulnerability, particularly as people age.
  • Better, more comprehensive measurement of outcomes that matter to people, such as maintaining quality of life, improving function, or reducing pain, are needed to enhance patient-centred care and research.
  • To advance understanding of individual differences in the effects of environments and treatments on health outcomes, development of new epidemiologic techniques, indicators and biomarkers of exposures and outcomes are needed.
  • To advance the ability of epidemiology and health services research to understand complexity, we require multi-level (community, environment, and person), longitudinal data, and associated analytic techniques that can incorporate and model heterogeneity in the effects of multiple exposures on clinical and population outcomes.
  • Improving the use of research evidence to support health care decision-making is necessary to improve patient outcomes through greater efficiency and effectiveness of the health care system.