There is a role for research across all disciplines and activity across policy sectors in redressing health inequities. MIHE is a platform to engage McMaster researchers across many disciplines to build capacity and produce a greater impact. Health equity is an area of focus that can span social, economic, urban, domestic and bio-physical environments, and the McMaster Institute for Health Equity will seize upon McMaster’s strengths in inter-disciplinary research, knowledge mobilization and community engagement to achieve maximum impact.
McMaster’s research strengths make it uniquely suited to this collaborative effort. Along with our health system partners, we are globally recognized and consistently ranked among the top 50 universities in the world for health and medicine. This excellence in health research and medicine has also had a strong population health focus, a field that includes a significant focus on health inequities. McMaster’s current strength in the disciplines that can best inform the next generation of health equity research extends across many faculties, schools, departments and disciplines, including business, economics, sociology, geography, philosophy, epidemiology, psychology, ethics, medicine, rehabilitation sciences, nursing and psychiatry.
The proposed Institute will be action-oriented, with a strong focus on knowledge mobilization. Drawing on models that conceptualize how research can inform the policy-making process , the Institute will focus on activities in six domains of activity, consistent with such models. First, it will build on traditional academic strengths in discovery-based and agenda-setting research. In both of these activities, scholarly research and innovation is directed towards recognition and adoption by knowledge users and policy-makers. Importantly, research can also inform other stages of the policy-making process, and the Institute will support students, faculty and staff at McMaster to develop research that will fulfil this role. Specifically, once an issue is adopted as part of the political agenda, research can participate in such activities as policy formulation, which involves developing policy options to address a problem and policy decision-making, whereby research is used to assess policy options that will yield the best possible outcomes. Once a policy option is selected, research can inform policy implementation, for instance, by building evidence-based tools that can be used in bureaucratic and other processes, and in evaluation, where policies and programs are evaluated for their effectiveness. While the bulk of University activity is typically in the discovery and agenda-setting stages, there is considerable expertise at McMaster that can be brought to bear on the other activities to enhance the impact of research on health equity.