elderly man being counselled by young female pharmacist on use of glucose monitor

New Initiative and Innovation Awards support pharmacy-focused researcher in public health and community-based care

Five research projects have been awarded funding to study how pharmacists can better support Canada’s overburdened health care system. The projects, which represent a partnership between U of T’s Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy and Dalla Lana School of Public Health, are being funded through the newly created Network for Improving Health Systems (NIHS), established by a generous $3 million donation from Shoppers Drug Mart in late 2022.

The New Initiative and Innovation Awards are aimed at understanding the expanding role of pharmacists and how a more integrated health system can connect and leverage care in pharmacies. Each award is $75,000.

“These new awards will provide essential support for research projects focused on building capacity in health services and improving the health system,” said Lisa Dolovich, dean of the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, and a health services researcher. “This is a critical time for health care, and we are committed to contributing to a more integrated health system that better leverages pharmacy care.” 

The research teams are examining a wide range of issues in public health and community-based care, from minor ailment prescribing to primary care to mental health.

“I am thrilled to see the broad range of research being funded through these awards, as a result of the collaboration between our two schools,” said France Gagnon, acting dean of the Dalla Lana School of Public Health. “From evaluating prescription services to developing options for pharmacies to become more sustainable, and supporting mental health and addiction services, I’m confident that the research being done across these areas and faculties will have an impact on public health, public health services, and pharmaceutical practices.”

The funding is also supporting two $25,000 trainee awards at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy and three at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health.

Evaluating uptake and impact of pharmacists’ minor ailment prescribing services

To help ease the pressure off a strained healthcare system, a new minor ailment prescribing service was launched in community pharmacies across Ontario in January 2023. Long called for by pharmacists and pharmacy practice associations, this expanded scope of practice allows pharmacists to prescribe for thirteen approved minor ailments.

“After six months of service provision, it is important to evaluate whether the health service meets the purpose for which it was introduced,” said Mina Tadrous, assistant professor, Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy whose project will use early real-world data to evaluate uptake of these services and will engage pharmacists and patients to better understand their experiences to date.

Enhancing supports for climate conscious pharmacy practice

Zubin Austin, professor at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, received one of the awards with a team including principal investigator Fiona Miller, professor of health policy at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health. Their team is evaluating interventions to improve environmental sustainability in pharmacy.

They are examining environmentally conscious decisions and choices made by individual pharmacists in their local practice and how the broader profession can work together to support and prioritize climate-conscious and environmentally sustainable practice.

“By taking a systems and profession-wide perspective, this project hopes to embed climate conscious practice into our curriculum, employment practices, workplace standards, and regulations, to make it not only easier but also a requirement of working in pharmacy,” says Austin.  “Without this funding, this kind of system-level view would be difficult to assemble and the macro-level perspective of environmental sustainability in pharmacy would be challenging to develop.”

Network for Improving Health Systems (NIHS) - New Initiative and Innovation Awards (2022-23)

Early evaluation of the minor ailment prescribing service: Uptake, equity, and patient-provider experiences of the service of Ontario

Principal Investigators: Mina Tadrous (Pharmacy), Kevin Schwartz (Public Health)

Expanding roles of pharmacists in primary care: A comparative interview study and policy analysis of Ontario and Quebec

Principal Investigators: Sarah Allin (Public Health), Jennifer Lake (Pharmacy)

Effectiveness of MedsCheck Diabetes in Ontario: A target trial emulation using administrative data

Principal Investigators: Lusine Abrahamyan (Public Health), Lisa Dolovich (Pharmacy), Petros Pechlivanoglou (Public Health)

Supporting mental health and addiction services in primary care pharmacy practice

Principal Investigators: Beth Sproule (Pharmacy), Alison Crawford (Public Health)

Pharmacy options for system-level interventions to improve environmental sustainability (POSITIVES)

Principal Investigators: Fiona Miller (Public Health), Zubin Austin (Pharmacy)

Network for Improving Health Systems (NIHS)– Trainee Awards (2022-23)

The Pathways of Care Among People Hospitalized for a Non-Fatal Opioid Toxicity in Ontario

Trainee: Shaleesa Ledlie, PhD candidate, Pharmaceutical Sciences
Graduate Supervisor: Tara Gomes

Exploring the pharmacist’s role in supporting newcomer international students and their families with the transition to the Canadian healthcare system including medication use

Trainee: Yasmin Aboelzahab, Pharmaceutical Sciences
Graduate Supervisor: Lisa Dolovich

Examining the Association Between Prenatal Antidepressant Exposure and the Incidence of Childhood Diabetes (Type 1 and Type 2): A Pharmacoepidemiology Study

Trainee: Lauren Tailor (PhD at PHS)
Graduate Supervisors: Prof. Sonia Grandi and Prof. Hilary Brown

Understanding Toronto Pharmacists’ Perspectives on a Pharmacy-Based E-Cigarettes Smoking Cessation Program

Trainee: Daniel Eisenkraft Klein (PhD at PHS)
Graduate Supervisor: Prof. Robert Schwartz

Development of a theory-informed intervention to facilitate delivery of minor ailments services by community pharmacists

Trainee: Daphne To (PhD at IHPME)
Graduate Supervisors: Prof. Noah Ivers and Prof. Mina Tadrous

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