The Institute for Health and Social Policy was created to conduct and support world-class research on how social conditions impact population health and welfare, and to lead programs designed to translate research findings into policies and programs on national and global scales. The Institute is committed to building collaborations with policymakers and to developing model programs in order to address population needs. Below are some of the titles of the current research projects being conducted by the Faculty of IHSP. Click to expand each title to read more about these projects.
Maternal and Child Health Equity
Estimating the Effects of Social Policy on Millennium Development Health Outcomes
Principal Investigator: Arijit Nandi
Website (includes complete list of co-investigators)
Funding: Canadian Institutes of Health Research
For over a century evidence has accumulated that demonstrates the dramatic impact that poverty, economic and gender inequality have on health and health equity. Compared with the magnitude of evidence of the problems created, though, far less is known about what to do about it. The Maternal and Child Health Equity (MACHEquity) project is rigorously examining the effects on population health of differing social policy approaches taken around the world to address poverty, economic and gender inequity. In carrying out this work, researchers from McGill University, including the Institute for Health and Social Policy and the Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Occupational Health, are collaborating with investigators in the United States, Europe, Africa, Latin America and Asia to focus on substantive areas that have been set as priorities by all 192 UN member states through the Millennium Development Goals: infant (under one year old) and child mortality (under 5 years old), maternal mortality, and HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis.
MACHEquity is comprised of three components:
1. Research. The research program examines how policies aimed at reducing poverty and gender inequality impact (i) major causes of illness and death in infants and children, (ii) major causes of illness and death in women under 50, and (iii) HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and other major diseases.
2. Training. The doctoral and post-doctoral training opportunities provided by MACHEquity aim to develop an international cohort of scholars with the methodological capacities to estimate the effects of social policies on health.
3. Knowledge mobilization. As a clearer understanding of what works is not enough to improve health and health equity, a critical element of MACHEquity is translating research findings into practical policy change through partnerships with Canadian and international NGOs.
Principal Investigator: Kristin Voigt
Co-investigators: Sam Harper, Nicholas King, Meredith Young
Addressing problems of global health requires the appropriate allocation of highly scarce resources. Decisions about how available funds should be spent must be sensitive to a variety of pressing health needs while also meeting considerations of fairness and legitimacy. Global health measures are an important instrument in such decisions since they can provide an assessment of the state of global health and allow us to quantify the health impact of different interventions and policy approaches. However, one of the most prominent measures of population health – the disability-adjusted life-year (DALY) developed as part of the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study – has been hugely controversial. Partly in response to the objections leveled against it, the measure has recently undergone its first major methodological revision since its inception in the 1990s. This project seeks to evaluate, from an inter-disciplinary perspective, the suitability of the revised methodology on which the GBD health measure is based for its intended and actual use in policy decisions.
Early publications from the Project
Kristin Voigt. ‘Measuring global health’. In Patti Tamara Lenard and Christine Straehle (eds.), Global Justice and Health Inequalities. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2012, pp. 139-156.
Understanding local determinants of subjective well-being
Principal Investigator: Christopher Barrington-Leigh
Funding: FQRSC, SSHRC, other
Through several related research efforts in the "economics of happiness" we are investigating the variation in life satisfaction across individuals, communities, and countries. This work makes use of existing international and Canadian surveys, as well as our own evolving survey instrument. There are opportunities for economists (and allied disciplines) at all levels from undergraduate to post-doctoral. One strand of this work relates in particular to the remarkable changes in subjective well-being of Quebeckers over the last quarter century.
Early publications from the Project
"The Québec convergence and Canadian life satisfaction 1985--2008," Canadian Public Policy / Analyse de Politiques, March 2013.
Inequality and Youth Violence
Principal Investigator: Frank Elgar
Funding: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council
New research on school bullying and physical fighting among children and adolescents indicates that income inequality begins to contribute to violent behaviour early in the lifespan. The developmental pathways that underlie this relationship are unclear. In this project, we are devloping a developmental model and research tools for studying the contributions of income inequality to youth violence. It involves the analyses of data from several international sources, including the WHO Health Behaviours in School-aged Children study.
Early publications from the Project
Elgar FJ, Pickett KE, Pickett W, Craig W, Molcho M, Hurrelmann K, Lenzi M. School bullying, homicide and income inequality: a cross-national pooled time series analysis. Int J Public Health, in press.
Elgar FJ, Aitken N. Income inequality, trust and homicide in 33 countries. Eur J Public Health. 2011 Apr;21(2):241-6.
Elgar FJ, Craig W, Boyce W, Morgan A, Vella-Zarb R. Income inequality and school bullying: multilevel study of adolescents in 37 countries. J Adolesc Health. 2009 Oct;45(4):351-9.
frank.elgar [at] mcgill.ca (Email)
Office: Charles Meredith House, Room 302
Transnational Migration of Physicians in the Twentieth Century
Principal Investigator: David Wright
This research project examines the transnational history of physician migration in the second half of the twentieth century. It will analyze the complex patterns of migration of physicians between national jurisdictions, which were neither unidirectional, nor can be characterized as a 'medicial carousel'. Rather, there emerged patterns of migration that were structured by cultural ties of the Commonwealth (and for French-speaking physicians, La Francophonie), the tradition of postgraduate medical training in Britain, and the modernization of immigration laws in receiving countries.
This project lies at the intersection of history of medicine, history of health policy, and immigration history with the following three objectives:
1. To examine the extent and nature of the immigration of International Medical Graduates (IMGs) to Canada in the post WWII era
2. To analyze the impact of the migration of physicians on source countries and their public health infrastructures
3. To explore the role of foreign-trained doctors in the evolution of public policy.
Early Publications from the Project
Wright, D., Clarke, J., “Too Many Doctors: Closing the Door to IMGs in Canada, c. 1976-1991”, Canadian Bulletin for Medical History, in production (March, 2013).
Wright, D., Mullally, S., Cordukes, C., “ ‘Worse than Being Married’: The Exodus of British Doctors from the National Health Service to Canada, c. 1955-1975”, Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, (2010), doi: 10.1093/jhmas/jrq013.
D Wright, N Flis and M Gupta, The 'Brain Drain' of Physicians: Historical antecedents to an ethical debate, c. 1960-79, Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine, 3:24 (10 Nov 2008) http://www.peh-med.com/content/3/1/24
Mullally, S., Wright, D., “La Grande Séduction?: The Immigration of Foreign-Trained Physicians to Canada, c.1954-76’, Journal of Canadian Studies, vol 31 (2007), 1-22.
david.j.wright [at] mcgill.ca (Email)
Office: Charles Meredith House, Room 100
Improving air quality, health and environment: household energy interventions
Principal Investigator: Jill Baumgartner
Co-investigators: James J. Schauer, Xudong Yang, Christine Wiedinmyer, Majid Ezzati, Stella Daskalopoulo
Billions of people cook and heat their homes with highly polluting solid fuel stoves that negatively impact human health and the environment. Our group is developing innovative measurements and methods to quantify the benefits of a novel energy intervention package on air quality, climate change mitigation and cardiovascular health. In over 200 rural homes in the eastern Tibetan Plateau, we are measuring the reduction in air pollution emissions and exposures as well as the cardiovascular benefits of replacing traditional fuels and stoves with low-emission gasifier technologies and processed biomass fuel. We are also applying these emissions measurements to regional climate models to predict the climate mitigation benefits of a larger intervention program. This project addresses a major environmental risk -- household air pollution from solid fuel use -- which is the 4th leading contributor to the global burden of disease. Our findings will be disseminated to policy makers and other relevant environmental and public health groups in China and globally.
Montreal Health Equity Research Consortium
Principal Investigators: Daniel Weinstock and Nicholas B. King
Funding: Canadian Institutes of Health Research Programmatic Grant in Health and Health Equity
The Montreal Health Equity Research Consortium (MHERC) consists of multiple projects directed by 7 faculty and 4 postdoctoral fellows at McGill University and the Université de Montréal. It has two main objectives:
What are the conceptual and ethical dilemmas underlying research in the social determinants of health? Drawing on methods from philosophy, epidemiology, and behavioral psychology, MHERC’s researchers identify and investigate novel ethical frameworks to guide public policy and public health interventions that address health equity.
Impacts of Policy on Health Equity
How do particular policies, measurement strategies, framing effects, prioritization schemes, and public health interventions impact health and health equity? MHERC’s researchers explore the ethical implications of health inequalities research, health policies, and public health interventions. Our goal is to produce policy-relevant academic work, as well as policy briefs aimed at population health professionals and policymakers.
We are always on the lookout for and happy to hear from potential collaborators and students. Feel free to contact us any time!
Hunt, M, L. Schwartz, and C. Sinding. (2013). Tragic Choices in humanitarian healthcare practice. Journal of Clinical Ethics 23(4):338-344.
De Wispelaere, J.(2013). The Struggle for Strategy: On the Politics of Universal Basic Income. Politics (forthcoming).
De Wispelaere, J and D. Casassas. (2013). A Life of One’s Own: Republican Freedom and Disability. Disability and Society (forthcoming).
Bisaillon, L. (2013). Contradictions and dilemmas within the practice of immigration medicine. Canadian Journal of Public Health, 104(1): e45-e51.
Bisaillon, L. & Rankin, J. (2013). Navigating the politics of fieldwork using institutional ethnography: Strategies for practice. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung/Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 14(1), Art.14.
Harper, Sam, & King, Nicholas B. (2013). Commentary: Best Practice for What? Milbank Quarterly, 91(1), 205-209
De Wispelaere, J and D. Weinstock. (2012). Licensing Parents to Protect Our Children. Ethics and Social Welfare 6(2).
Eckenwiler L.,C. Straehle, and R. Chung. (2012) Global Solidarity, Migration, and Global Health Equity.Bioethics, 26 (7): 382-390.
Bisaillon, L. (2012). An analytic glossary for social inquiry using institutional and political activist ethnography. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 11(5).
Rosenthal, A. (2012) Weaving Networks of Responsibility: Community Work and Child Care in Development Programs in Rural Malawi. Medical Anthropology, 31: 420–437.
Hunt, MR, Andreson J, Boulanger R.(2012). Ethical implications of disaster research diversity. American Journal of Disaster Medicine. 7(3);211-21.
Hunt MR, Schwartz L, Elit L. (2012). Ethics support and training for health professionals in international aid work. Public Health Ethics. 5(1); 91-9
Schwartz L, Hunt MR, Sinding S, Elit L, Redwood-Campbell L, Adelson N, DeLaat S. (2012) Models for humanitarian health care ethics. Public Health Ethics. 5(1); 81-90.
Harper S, Rushani D, Kaufman JS. (2012). Trends in the Black-White Life Expectancy Gap, 2003-2008. JAMA. 307: 2257-2259.
King, Nicholas B., Sam Harper, Meredith Young (2012). Use of relative and absolute effect measures in reporting health inequalities: structured review. BMJ 345: e5774.
King, N. B., S. Harper, et al. (2012). Who cares about health inequalities? Cross-country evidence from the World Health Survey. Health Policy and Planning.