Research Program

The overall purpose is to study, explore, and foster learning about the use of an equity lens during a period of complex system change in public health. An equity lens is a way of approaching public health policy that recognizes that someone's social circumstances influence their health, and that public health systems should work to lessen the negative effects of social position on health. We aim to develop ideas for reducing health inequities that can be applied in public health.

What is this program of research about?

Equity Lens in Public Health is a 5-year program of research funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). Our aim is to produce new knowledge for reducing systemic health inequities and for promotion of health equity through mental health promotion and prevention of harms of substance use.

This project is linked to the Core Public Health Functions Research Initiative (CPHFRI). We are located at the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research (CISUR) at the University of Victoria.

What questions are we are asking?

  • What promotes or restricts the implementation of health equity as a priority in BC health authorities?
  • What mechanisms of collaboration exist between public health and other sectors to take action on health inequities?
  • What tools and resources can be developed to support health equity oriented policies and programs?
  • How do public health providers address the ethical challenges as they work to reduce health inequities? 

Why are we doing this?

In British Columbia (BC) there are significant differences in life expectancy among geographic regions. People with low incomes have significantly poorer health than people with high incomes. Of particular concern is that many Aboriginal peoples have lower life expectancies and poorer health than the general population. Several Canadian reports have recommended strengthening the public health system to close the gap on differences in health outcomes.

How can we strengthen public health action?healthy minds healthy people

This program of research is designed to study and foster learning about the integration of an equity lens in public health. The recent and important development of Healthy Minds, Healthy People: A Ten-Year Plan to Address Mental Health and Substance Use in British Columbia and the associated public health renewal processes have been identified as a key area for research to strengthen public health action to reduce health inequities.

What are the studies? 

This project has four studies, to be carried out over five years: