Research Updates

Catch up on our recent research highlights and activities.


New Research in Review: Read the 2023 Annual Report

In the 2023 calendar year, we continued to support our vision of excellent health and care for everyone, everywhere, every time. Thriving research collaborations are changing lives and improving services by:

  • preventing vascular risk
  • reducing migraine pain through a clinical trial
  • preventing injury in community healthcare workers
  • co-creating a response to the toxic drug poisoning crisis
  • engaging community to improve dementia care in the Comox Valley
  • empowering people through better data management

Read the report


Engaging Community to Spark Aging, Dementia, and Long-Term Care Research in the Comox Valley

July 2023


The Comox Valley Community Foundation has awarded Island Health $130,000 from the Robert and Florence Filberg Medical Research Grant to engage community in improving care and services for an aging population. 


The grant was facilitated by the Comox Valley Healthcare Foundation; President Bill Anglin notes that “aging well and growing old are on the minds of many in our community. The Comox Valley Healthcare Foundation, working alongside Island Health, is placing a spotlight directly on aging well and growing old. We are grateful for the generous funding provided by the Comox Valley Community Foundation.”

Some of the grant will support a local research priority-setting workshop in September 2023. The workshop will bring together patients--including family members, caregivers and friends--researchers, clinicians and healthcare decision-makers to identify the community’s top priorities around aging well, dementia, and long-term care. “We’re thrilled that the Comox Valley Community Foundation and the Comox Valley Healthcare Foundation are supporting research collaborations with patients and communities," says Cindy Trytten, Director of Research. 
The workshop’s patient-oriented approach engages people with lived experience as equal partners through the whole research process, from setting priorities to ensuring that the results will improve outcomes. For Max Jajszczok, Executive Director, Rural and Remote Strategy, “The Filberg Medical Research Grant will empower the people who receive our services to identify their research priorities for aging and dementia care by bringing them together with researchers, clinicians, and health system leaders to improve experience and outcomes.”

Following the workshop, the majority of the grant will be distributed through a grant competition to fund research projects and fellowships that address the top priorities. These projects will have a tangible local impact, paving the way for participation in studies, fostering more research opportunities, and shaping a brighter future for aging and dementia care. 

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Interested in contributing or participating? Connect with us! 


    Congratulations to the latest crop of research seed grant winners! 

    June 2023

    The results are in! Congratulations to the three successful teams, who will receive $7,500 each to support the following projects:

    • Improving frailty care in Cowichan: Lina Al-Sakran (evaluation consultant, Cowichan Health & Wellness Plan) will take a patient-centred approach to improve community care and services for people living with frailty in the Cowichan Valley. This study aims to understand the needs of Cowichan Valley seniors, and identify opportunities to improve services that will support older adults to live independently in the community.
    • Supporting patients before life-changing surgery: Meara Brown (speech language pathologist) will map the care journeys and counselling experiences of patients who have total laryngectomies: the complete surgical removal of the voice box. Drawing on the help and expertise of the laryngectomy community, this is a first step towards building a counselling framework to better support patients before a life-changing surgery with profound social, economic, and health consequences.
    • Engaging Indigenous youth to measure connections to culture and land: Jennifer MacKenzie (regional youth MHSU nurse clinician & youth intensive case management team coordinator), Andrea Mellor (UVic) and Cecelia Benoit (UVic) will engage with Indigenous communities in Victoria and Cowichan to evaluate a meaningful way of measuring connections to culture and land for Indigenous youth who access mental health and substance use services. Cultural interventions take a whole-person and strengths-based approach, and measure hope, belonging, purpose, and meaning.


    From left: Lina Al-Sakran, Meara Brown, and Jennifer MacKenzie

    Meaningful Review, Meaningful Projects

    For the first time in an Island Health grant competition, the application review process included patient and community partners alongside clinical and academic reviewers. All reviewers were invited to evaluate all applications to the competition. Their scores and feedback were weighted equally, and combined to determine which projects would receive funding. Designing a balanced and meaningful review process that brings together many perspectives is one way to make sure we're funding research that matters to the communities we serve. It also helps to ensure that the funded projects are designed and conducted with patients, families, and communities in mind as equal partners.

    The patient partners were supported throughout the review process by Island Health’s Leader for Patient and Public Research Engagement. Patient partners include anyone directly affected by a health condition, illness, or health system issue: family members, loved ones, and care givers as well as patients. There are lots of ways to get involved in research beyond participating as a study subject. Whether you're interested in joining a research team, helping set priorities for future research, reviewing grant applications, or contributing to events and education, your experience provides a unique and valuable perspective.

    • Complete this brief survey and we'll be in touch when we have a local opportunity that fits your interests.

    Emerging Stronger

    Funding for this competition was made available through the Victoria Hospitals Foundation’s Emerge Stronger campaign. This $10 million campaign provided $500,000 to fund research projects that support the provision and delivery of care in the South Island and/or Island-wide. 

    We are grateful to the Victoria Hospitals Foundation and their very generous donors for supporting health research on Vancouver Island. To donate or to learn more about these projects and others, visit the Foundation's website.​​

    New Research in Review Highlights Collaborations & Impact

    April 2023

    Curious about what we've been up to recently? Check out our Research in Review, a report that highlights just some of the inspiring researchers at Island Health and the people whose lives they impact in so many positive ways. Research is all about collaboration, relationships, learning, and inquiry; thank you to those who support what we do!

    Read our Research in Review

    REDCap Data Management: Celebrating 10 Years + 1,000 Projects at Island Health

    March 2023

    REDCap (Research Electronic Data CAPture) is a powerful data management tool that’s advancing health services management, quality improvement, innovation, and research at Island Health and across BC.

    On March 22, we reached a major milestone: 1,000 REDCap projects have been created at Island Health since its launch in 2014! 

    • Check out this infographic celebrating 10 years of REDCap at Island Health
    • Get the details on its evolution at Island Health in this report.

    The 1,000 Project: Snapshot

    Who requested the 1,000th project? Aimee Falkenberg, a forensic nurse examiner and clinical coordinator for the Nanaimo Forensic Nurse Examiner Program (Central and North Island). Learn more about Forensic Nursing Services at Island Health.


    How will Aimee use the project? Aimee and her team will use REDCap to collect statistical data for the forensic nursing program. This will allow them to increase their skillset and educate forensic nurse examiners; it will also shed light on the increasing levels of intentional violence and injuries they’re seeing. Forensic nurses are on call 24/7 and 365 days of the year. They see survivors of intimate partner violence, intentional relational violence, family violence, sexual exploitation and sexual assault across the lifespan, all genders up to seven days post incident. 

    What’s the impact? Aimee says that “having data to show what types of injuries we are seeing and the significance of those injuries to the health and wellbeing of survivors will help us develop interventions and research projects that will directly impact care outcomes. I am excited to start this project, to see the benefits of the data collection and to make deeper and greater impacts for survivors of intentional traumatic violence.”

    Why did Aimee choose REDCap? It came with a strong recommendation: “Using REDCap for data collection was a very easy decision to make. Trauma Services is using REDCap for a large trauma project and Darren Chan (trauma coordinator for Central and North Island) said it was seamless to use and crucial to the work they do.” says Aimee.

    Learn More about REDCap

    WINTER 2023

    New Research Network to Improve Care for Acquired Brain Injury

    January 2023

    Vancouver Island University (VIU) researcher Dr. Sandy Shultz and Island Health's Aimee Falkenberg (clinical coordinator for the Forensic Nurse Examiner program, Central and North Island) are leading a patient-oriented research team to improve care for survivors of intimate partner violence who have experienced a brain injury.

    There isn't a lot of research on Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) as a result of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV), which can be difficult to diagnose because there is no current standard for screening.  ABIs can be misidentified as emotional distress or struggles with mental health or substance use, and symptoms may not occur immediately after an assault. Targeted assessment tools are urgently needed.

    In December, a group of clinicians, researchers, community organizations, and people with lived and living experience of ABI/IPV gathered in Nanaimo to establish a patient-oriented research​ network. 


    Supported by members of Island Health's Research Department and funded by a Michael Smith Health Research BC grant, the event built on a longstanding collaboration between the Nanaimo Brain Injury Society, academic & community partners, and Island Health.

    Forensic nurses and people with lived experience underscored the lack of assessment tools and treatment protocols for ABI/IPV survivors, and identified priorities and next steps for collaboration. Dr. Shultz presented his novel blood-biomarker research protocol developed to enable rapid and accurate diagnosis of ABI/IPV. Attendees reviewed the protocol to optimize its implementation at Island Health and will support the recruitment of ABI/IPV survivors to test the blood biomarker later this year.

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