NEWSLETTER | Winter 2020
In this issue:

  • Patient Partner profile: Juanna Ricketts**
  • Maritime Health Atlas consultation with Community Health Boards**
  • New Knowledge Snapshots series*
  • Patient Partner Consultation—and a shift in language
  • MATCH video receives special commendation*
  • Update on SPOR Phase II funding application*

Consult Corner
  • New systematic reviewrisk factors for back pain in young people*

Research Updates
  • UniCITY publishes Participatory Asset Map*
  • 811 Nova Scotia survey update*
  • Myeloma PSP first survey update*

Engagement Opportunities
  • Pre-announcement: CIHR IHDCYH Youth Advisory Council
  • IMAGINE Network Study

Upcoming Events and Training
  • KT Canada National Seminar Series
  • Explore! Lunch and Learn—Patient Engagement
  • Data Access Privacy Training
  • Troutville: Where People Discuss Fairness Issues
  • Dalhousie Crossroads Conference
  • BRIC NS Primary Health Care Research Day—Call for Abstracts

Funding and Job Opportunities
  • MSSU job opportunities (Halifax, NS and Saint John, NB)*
  • Assistant Professor, Interdisciplinary Health Program (Antigonish, NS)
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Strengthening Transitions in Pediatric Care (Halifax, NS)
  • CHILD-BRIGH KT Innovation Incubator*

Publications and Reports
  • Recent peer-reviewed publications
  • UniCITY Participatory Asset Map

SPOR Community Updates
  • Data Access Support Hub (DASH) launched*
  • Perspectives on Patient-Oriented Research video series
  • New episode of SPORcast

MSSU Updates
  • New staff members
  • Congratulations and a farewell

* Le contenu est aussi disponible en français.
** Un résumé de l’article est disponible en français.
Meet Juanna Ricketts, Patient Partner
Get to know our Patient Partners! In our third interview in this series, we sat down with Juanna Ricketts to talk about overcoming fear to find her voice, the need to make mental health a part of daily conversations, and her many contributions to patient-oriented research.

Maritime Health Atlas hosts consultation with Community Health Boards
On November 29, 2019, more than 20 members of Nova Scotia Community Health Boards gathered to provide feedback on the Maritime Health Atlas, an online tool for mapping and exploring health data from across the Maritimes. Initially released in 2016, the Maritime Health Atlas is currently engaging a range of stakeholders in an ongoing renewal process.

Participants at Maritime Health Atlas Meeting
Participants select priority functions at the Maritime Health Atlas NS Community Health Board Consultation in Dartmouth, NS on November 29, 2019. Photo credit: Daniel Rainham.
Research Assistants at Maritime Health Atlas Meeting
MSSU Research Assistants Jill Adams and Liam Rowe reading over the priority functions at the Maritime Health Atlas NS Community Health Board Consultation in Dartmouth, NS on November 29, 2019. Photo credit: Daniel Rainham.
New ' Knowledge Snapshots ' series
The MSSU and the Nova Scotia Health Authority Primary Health Care team collaborated to create three ‘ Knowledge Snapshots,’ documents that give researchers and healthcare professionals a quick and digestible view of existing knowledge and research in self-management support and chronic disease management—a great starting point for future research!

Patient Partner Consultation – and a shift in language
On January 9, 2020, the MSSU hosted a consultation session with Patient Partners from all three Maritime Provinces, with many attending the meeting online. The consultation gave Patient Partners and MSSU staff the opportunity to reflect on patient engagement practices within the MSSU and to discuss upcoming events and opportunities.

As a result of these discussions, the MSSU will now use the term 'Patient Partner' rather than 'Patient Advisor.' This change reflects a national shift in the language of patient-oriented research, and encourages a more equitable relationship between patients and other stakeholders. Patient Partners also provided important feedback on the development of a Compensation and Reimbursement Policy for Patient Partners.

Thank you to everyone who participated in these valuable discussions.
MATCH video receives special commendation
Congratulations to Dr Mathieu Bélanger, Director of Research for the Centre de formation médicale du Nouveau-Brunswick and MSSU Science Lead (Moncton), who received a special commendation in the CIHR Institute of Human Development, Child and Youth Health (IHDCYH) Talks Competition for the video “Monitoring Activities of Teenagers to Comprehend their Habits (MATCH)."

Learn more   >

Update on SPOR Phase II funding application
In 2019, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) announced the Phase II funding competition for the SPOR SUPPORT Units. The MSSU is working with stakeholders in all three Maritime Provinces to prepare a business case for submission to the CIHR in May 2020.

We are grateful for the willingness of our community to engage in this process. We want to thank the many researchers, policy-makers, clinicians, and Patient Partners who braved winter weather to participate in provincial stakeholder meetings held in Nova Scotia on December 18, 2019 and in New Brunswick on Jan 8, 2020. We appreciate you sharing your time and expertise. Your feedback is remarkable, and was brought forward to a Maritime-wide retreat with all co-applicants that was held on January 14-15, 2020 in Halifax, NS.

The MSSU leadership is also heading to Ottawa on Jan 11-12, 2020 to meet with other SPOR SUPPORT Units and SPOR-funded entities to connect our business case with their activities. We want, once again, to thank our community for their ongoing contributions to creating the business case—and helping to secure this important investment in patient-oriented research in our region.
SPOR SUPPORT Unit Phase II Funding Opportunity
Consult Corner
Last year, the MSSU provided hundreds of research consultations to support researchers, policy-makers and health care practitioners pursuing patient-oriented research. In this regular feature, we’ll share outcomes from this work.
New systematic review looks at the risk factors for back pain in young people
An international team with Maritime connections has published a new systematic review in the European Spine Journal that considers the evidence for chronic physical illnesses, mental health disorders, and psychological features as risk factors for back pain in children, adolescents, and young adults. In 2018, Dr. Jeff Hebert, Professor and the NBHRF/CCRF Research Chair in Musculoskeletal Health at the University of New Brunswick, approached the MSSU for an evidence synthesis consultation.

Leah Boulos, MSSU Evidence Synthesis Coordinator, developed and performed the literature search for the team, which included several researchers at Murdoch University in Australia. In addition to the publication, the findings were presented at the Chiropractic Australia National Conference, where Amber Beynon, a PhD student at Murdoch University and first-author of the paper, received the Second Place Prize for Podium Presentation. The results will also be presented at the upcoming Canadian Pain Society Annual Scientific Meeting in Calgary.

Need help with patient-oriented research?  

Our team has a range of expertise and offers free research consultations to a variety of stakeholders in the health systems in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island.

Research Updates
UniCITY publishes Participatory Asset Map
The Uniting to Connect Innovative Technology for Youth Mental Health and Addictions Services (UniCITY) research project has published a participatory asset map that captures and shares information on 31 eMental health programs, tools, resources and services that are available to children and youth in Nova Scotia.

UniCITY was formed following discussions at the June 2018 MSSU NS Bridge Event, and aims to mobilize research into service delivery planning, inform new health policy, and build capacity for research funding competitiveness. The UniCITY Participatory Asset Map, as well as French and English summaries, can be downloaded from the MSSU website.

811 Nova Scotia survey update
MSSU staff, patients and community members discuss 811 survey results
From October 29, 2019 to January 21, 2020, the ‘ Exploring 811 use in Nova Scotia’ research project surveyed Nova Scotians to better understand why they do or do not use 811 services. The research team has been busy analyzing the more than 300 responses to the survey. On January 28, 2020, the team held an engagement session at the Halifax North Memorial Public Library to get feedback from patients and community members on the initial findings. These discussions helped to refine the themes identified in survey responses, and is being incorporated into a report on the survey findings that will be available on the MSSU website in the coming months. Thank you to all who participated in the survey and subsequent discussions.

Myeloma PSP first survey update
The Myeloma Priority Setting Partnership (Myeloma PSP) is a unique partnership that is using the James Lind Alliance method to engage people living with myeloma, caregivers, and healthcare providers in identifying and prioritizing questions about myeloma that can be answered through research. Myeloma PSP closed their first survey on January 15, 2020. The survey was completed more than 500 times, and the team is now busily sorting through an initial list of roughly 3,000 possible research questions. The second survey is expected later this year.

Engagement Opportunities
CIHR-IHDCYH Youth Advisory Council
The CIHR Institute of Human Development, Child and Youth Health (IHDCYH) invites Canadian youth ages 12-25 to apply to join their new youth advisory council. The Youth Advisory Council will bring the youth voice directly and purposefully into IHDCYH conversations and priority development. Details are coming soon!

Email to learn more or follow @CIHR_IHDCYH on Twitter for the latest updates.
Participate in the IMAGINE Network Study
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The Inflammation, Microbiome, and Alimentation: Gastro-Intestinal and Neuropsychiatric Effects (IMAGINE) is a Canada-wide study looking at the interactions between inflammation, the gut microbiome (bacteria/microorganisms), diet and mental health in patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and healthy individuals in order to better treat IBD and IBS, and to understand their link to mental health.

The IMAGINE Network is looking for participants ages 5 to 105, to complete questionnaires and donate stool, blood and urine annually for up to 4 years.

This study has been approved by the IWK Research Ethics Board (Study # 1022657).

If you’re interested in taking part at the IWK Health Centre, please contact for more information.

To learn more about the IMAGINE Network or to find other IMAGINE participating sites in Canada, visit
Upcoming Events and Training
Community-led Knowledge Translation: Experiences translating knowledge with Indigenous Communities
Photo of Dr Wendy Gifford
Thursday, February 13, 2020, 1:00 pm 2:00 pm

Learning objectives
At the end of this presentation the audience will be able to:

  1. Describe reasons why disparities in health exist for Indigenous People
  2. Understand the resilience of Indigenous peoples and why knowledge translation with Indigenous communities is distinct
  3. Describe processes for translating knowledge with Indigenous communities

Speaker: Dr. Wendy Gifford is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences School of Nursing at the University of Ottawa and Loyer-DaSilva Research Chair in Community and Public Health Nursing.

Are you going to be in Halifax? Join us in Room 214 at the Centre for Clinical Research, 5790 University Avenue, where we'll be tuning in.

If you'd like to join online, email Meghan Storey ( to register.

Watch Past KT Canada Seminars Online
Photo of Lauren McLaughlin
How can I start engaging patients in my research as partners?

Wednesday, February 19, 2020, 12:00 – 1:00 pm
5D South Classroom, Saint John Regional Hospital, Saint John, NB or via Skype Web Link 

Speaker: Lauren (Cook) McLaughlin, MSSU Clinical Research Assistant

Are you interested in engaging patients as partners in health-related research? Join us to learn how to get started. This presentation is a part of the Explore! Lunch and Learn seminar series hosted by the Horizon Health Network’s Office of Research Services.

Data Access Privacy Training

The MSSU provides regular data access privacy training for our staff and collaborators who are working with or intend to access administrative data through Health Data Nova Scotia (HDNS) and the New Brunswick Institute of Research, Data and Training (NB-IRDT). HDNS trainings are typically held on the last Wednesday of the month and NB-IRDT trainings are typically held on the last Tuesday of the month.

Upcoming sessions
For HDNS data users
  • February 26, 2020, 9:00 am - 10:00 am 
  • March 25, 2020, 9:00 am - 10:00 am 
  • April 29, 2020, 9:00 am - 10:00 am 
For NB-IRDT data users
  • February 25, 2020, 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
  • March 31, 2020, 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
  • April 28, 2020, 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Troutville: Where People Discuss Fairness Issues

Friday, February 28, 2020 from 12:30 - 1:45 PM AST
Room 104, Weldon Law Building, Dalhousie University
6061 University Avenue, Halifax, NS

Speaker: Dr. Yukiko Asada, Faculty of Medicine, Dalhousie University

Light lunch served at 12:10 pm in the Faculty Lounge, Rm 312.

This free public lecture is a part of the Health Law Institute 2019-2020 Seminar Series.

Curious about the Fairness Dialogues? Read the research report from the Phase II Pilot Study.

Crossroads Conference Logo
Dalhousie Crossroads Interdisciplinary Health Research Conference

Growing the future of collaborative health research

March 13 - 14, 2020 
Halifax, NS

The Dalhousie Crossroads Interdisciplinary Health Research Conference is a student-led health and wellness conference that brings together students and experts in health innovation research. 

Highlights from this year’s schedule include:

  • Two mini courses:
  • Sex and Gender Based Analysis in Health Research: What is it and Why Does it Matter? presented by Dr. Jacqueline Gahagan and Dr. Jenna Haverfield
  • Research to Policy presented by Logan Lawrence, Dr. Adrian MacKenzie, Dr. Christine Cassidy, and Dr. Meaghan Sim
  • An expert panel discussion on Health Research with Indigenous Peoples
  • Naloxone Training facilitated by Amanda Hudson-Frigault, Nova Scotia Take Home Naloxone Program Coordinator
  • A keynote address by Dr. Ingrid Waldron, Associate Professor, School of Nursing, Dalhousie University; Co-Chair, Dalhousie Black Faculty & Staff Caucus; and author of There’s Something in the Water

BRIC NS Call for Abstracts
BRIC NS Primary Health Care Research Day

Explore the many faces of integrated care 

Tuesday, June 23, 2020 
Dalhousie Student Union Building 
6136 University Ave, Halifax, NS

Building Research for Integrated Primary Health care in Nova Scotia (BRIC NS) is accepting abstract submissions for Primary Health Care Research Day 2020. This one-day conference is open to all and brings together medical researchers, healthcare providers, faculty, patients, policymakers, students and members of the community to celebrate primary health care and research across Canada. 

Dr. Andrew Pinto, Public Health and Preventative Medicine Specialist and Family Physician at St. Michael’s Hospital, Toronto, will be the keynote speaker. 

Abstracts accepted until March 31, 2020 at 11:59 pm AST.

Funding and Job Opportunities
Photos of MSSU staff
Five great opportunities to join the MSSU team
We are currently hiring:

Evaluation and Performance Management Specialist
Location: Centre for Clinical Research, Halifax, Nova Scotia
Closing date : February 14, 2020 at 11:59 pm AST

Data Navigator/Analyst
Location: Health Data Nova Scotia, Halifax, Nova Scotia
Closing date: February 14, 2020 at 12:00 pm AST

Research Assistant
Location: Horizon Health Network, Saint John, NB
Closing date: February 16, 2020 at 11:59 pm AST

Research Assistant (2 positions)
Location: Centre for Clinical Research, Halifax, Nova Scotia
Closing date : February 26, 2020 at 11:59 pm AST
Assistant Professor
Interdisciplinary Health Program

Tenure-Track | St. Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, NS

The Interdisciplinary Health Program at St. Francis Xavier University is accepting applications for a probationary tenure-track appointment at the rank of Assistant Professor. Applicants should have a PhD by the time of appointment and possess research expertise/experience aligned with an interdisciplinary approach to the study of health that crosses traditional boundaries of the pure, applied and social sciences and humanities. 

Application deadline : March 2, 2020

Learn more >  
Postdoctoral Fellow
Strengthening Transitions in Pediatric Care
IWK Health Centre and Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS

The Strengthening Transitions in Pediatric Care (STIPC) lab, based at the IWK Health Centre and Dalhousie University, is seeking a 2-year Postdoctoral Fellow to provide research support and leadership for a CIHR-funded study on co-designing pediatric discharge communication tools in the emergency department with youth, parents and clinicians. The position provides an excellent opportunity for a Postdoctoral Fellow to enhance mixed methods research expertise and skills, and acquire experience in implementation science and patient-oriented research.

Application deadline : March 31, 2020 or until filled

Image of blocks stacked
KT Innovation Incubator
CHILD-BRIGHT has launched a KT Innovation Incubator grant competition that will award up to $12,000 to each of two (2) winning knowledge translation research projects that aim to answer a research question related to knowledge translation and patient-oriented research. 

Application deadline : February 17, 2020 8:00 AM EST

Publications and Reports
The following research was supported by the MSSU:

Bélanger M, Gallant F, Doré I, et al. Physical activity mediates the relationship between outdoor time and mental health. Preventative Medicine Reports 2019; 16. Full Article >

Beynon AM, Hebert JJ, Hodgetts CJ, Boulos LM, Walker BF. Chronic physical illnesses, mental health disorders, and psychological features as potential risk factors for back pain from childhood to young adulthood: a systematic review with meta-analysis. Eur Spine J. 2020. Full Article >

Wozney L, MacAuley R, Hibbert R, Aubrecht K, Adams J, Campbell LA, Grant A, Jeffers E, Jerrott S, Kontak J, MacDougall S, Macqueen J. UniCITY: Uniting to Connect Innovative Technology for Youth Mental Health and Addiction Services. Halifax, Nova Scotia: Maritime SPOR SUPPORT Unit (MSSU); 2020. 14 p. Download the report >
We can help spread the word! If we've supported your research and you've published your findings, let us know by emailing We'll include your paper in our next newsletter.
SPOR Community Updates
People looking at data on a screen
Health Data Research Network | Data Access Support Hub (DASH)

The Health Data Research Network (HDRN) has launched the Data Access Support Hub (DASH), a one-stop shop for requesting access to data from multiple provincial, territorial and pan-Canadian sources. 

By offering a single access point for multi-jurisdictional data requests, DASH simplifies the way researchers request data access and provides a clear point of contact for ongoing support throughout the process.

Researchers can now sign up for a free DASH account and view datasets which are available for request through the platform. In this first phase, requests from SPOR SUPPORT Units and Networks, as well as recipients of Innovative Clinical Trials (iCT) grants, will be prioritized.

BC SUPPORT Unit | Perspectives on Patient-Oriented Research Videos
The BC SUPPORT Unit has released the first in a new video series, called Perspectives on Patient-Oriented Research (POR), which explores different views on POR from patients, researchers, trainees, health care practitioners, and other stakeholder groups from across British Columbia. These individuals share their experiences with, and thoughts on, patient-oriented research to get an understanding of how POR impacts everyone involved. The first video provides a snapshot of POR across British Columbia, and explores the value of including patient partners in research teams. 

SPORcast | Episode 10 – Cultural Safety in Community-Based Research
SPORcast logo
The latest SPORcast episode, A Conversation about Cultural Safety in Community-Based Research , is now available for listening. Hosted by Patient Partners, Beverley Pomeroy and Lisa Ridgway, SPORCast is a bi-weekly podcast that discusses aspects the Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research. In episode 10, Dr. Charlotte Loppie, Director of the Centre for Indigenous Research and Community-Led Engagement and Professor in the School of Public Health and Social Policy at the University of Victoria, discusses cultural humility and safety. The hosts hope to create an ongoing dialogue to build relationships in patient-oriented research with under-represented groups. If you’re interested in suggesting a topic or recommending a guest for future episodes, please contact the SPORcast team.

Want to know more? Check out the SPOR newsletter!
MSSU Updates
Adelee MacNevin – Administrative Office Manager
Adelee MacNevin
Adelee MacNevin joined the UPEI Centre for Health and Community Research (CHCR) in November 2019 as their Administrative Office Manager. In 2009, Dr. Jurgen Krause and Adelee started initial activities that eventually lead to the formation of the CHCR, which collaborates as part of the MSSU. Adelee oversaw various research initiatives and managed the administrative aspects of the CHCR. After leaving the CHCR to stay home with her two young children in 2015, Adelee is thrilled to rejoin the CHCR’s team. Adelee is managing the administrative activities of the CHCR including project and financial management, and communications. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from UPEI.
Erin Murray – Communications Assistant
Erin Murray
Erin Murray joined the MSSU as the Communications Assistant and will be based with the team in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Currently a third-year Bachelor of Public Relations student at Mount Saint Vincent University (MSVU), Erin joined the MSSU team for her winter co-op placement. She is working on internal and external communications projects and assisting with the development of a social media strategy. Erin's last co-op placement was in Charlottetown, working in Veterans Affairs Canada's Communications Division. She holds a BA in History from MSVU but fell in love with public relations during her time as the Vice President of Communications for the MSVU Student's Union. 
Congratulations to Samantha Fowler, who has been appointed as the new MSSU Clinical Research Manager. We are lucky to have her in this role, and look forward to working with her in this capacity.

Sadly, Jill Adams, has left her Research Assistant role with the MSSU. She is joining the Project Management team at IBM, based in Bedford, NS. We wish her the best of luck in her new role.
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