Current Projects




CRiHHI members: Victoria Smye (Nominated Principal Investigator), Colleen Varcoe (Co-Investigator), Annette Browne (Co-Investigator)

This research project explores Aboriginal men’s experiences of health, wellbeing and social services support. Using a participatory research approach, the study aims to improve Aboriginal men’s access to appropriate, safe and effective health and social services. The study uses various ethnographic methods, including in-depth individual and focus group interviews, photovoice, and participant observations. The research design, process and dissemination are guided by a Community Aboriginal Advisory Team of elders, healers, community men and service organization providers. The findings of this study will be used to inform the planning and design of services for Aboriginal peoples. This project is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).


Sanala team

CRiHHI members: Gladys McPherson (Principal Investigator), Helen Brown (Co-Investigator)

In this project we explore the contribution of cultural learning to the health and development of young 'Namgis children and their families. The project aims to identify the cultural dimensions of child development within the 'Namgis First Nation, integrating these into early childhood education in Amlilas - the early childhood development centre for 'Namgis children and families in Alert Bay. This project will produce a more culturally relevant approach to early childhood education, enhancing the wellbeing of young 'Namgis children and their families. This research is funded by the Vancouver Foundation.

CRiHHI members: Judith Lynam (Co-Investigator)

This CIHR-funded study seeks to discern how an integrated, family-centric, whole-of-community approach to care in early childhood leads to improved child health and developmental outcomes. This research builds upon insights from the RICHER social pediatrics research programme. CRiHHI investigator Judith Lynam is working with an interdisciplinary Ontario-based research team led by Dr. Ingrid Tyler.

CRiHHI members: Helen Brown (Co-Investigator)

First Nations people more frequently get inflammatory arthritis and other chronic diseases, and they often have to deal with more than one chronic disease at the same time. First Nations people also face numerous barriers in accessing health services and their experience within the healthcare system hinders self-management efforts. This project will develop and assess a novel model of care that responds to the needs of First Nations people living with arthritis. The model aims to facilitate culturally safe care and foster the development of care plans using a nurse case manager model that integrates management of arthritis with that of other chronic conditions, to improve health outcomes. Through community engagement, the design, responsibilities, and logistics of the model will be finalized. Once established, the case manager model will be evaluated based on: feasibility; acceptance by the community; and, impact on healthcare experiences and health behaviours of First Nations people with arthritis. This project is funded by Canadian Initiatives in Outcomes in Rheumatology Care (CIORA).

Cool Aid front desk

CRiHHI members: Annette Browne (Nominated Principal Investigator), Colleen Varcoe (Co-Principal Investigator), Sabrina Wong (Co-Investigator)

EQUIP Healthcare is a five-year interdisciplinary research program funded by CIHR. This research focuses on improving primary health care (PHC) services for various populations, including Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people who experience the negative health effects of structural inequities and structural violence. The team will study the effectiveness of an innovative PHC intervention designed to improve delivery of care and health outcomes, particularly for people affected by poverty, trauma and social exclusion. They will also identify the policies needed to support equity-oriented PHC interventions. Key research partnerships are with the Aboriginal Health Program of the BC Provincial Health Services Authority, the Public Health Agency of Canada, Aboriginal health organizations, various PHC agencies in BC and Ontario and Echo: Improving Women’s Health in Ontario. This research is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

Visit to learn more.


CRiHHI members: Judith Lynam (Co-Principal Investigator)

This research represents a new component of the RICHER clinical and research programme.  The broad concern of this research is to generate insights to foster child and family health equity.  We are undertaking research to examine the ways structural violence operates in the day to day lives of children, youth and families living with marked social and material adversity in Vancouver's inner city.  We will illustrate the impact of structural violence on health, child development and community well being and to use these insights to inform the design of a Medical Legal Community Partnership (MLP). This research is funded by the Vancouver Foundation Community Based Research Grants.


CRiHHI members: Colleen Varcoe (Co-Principal Investigator)

iCAN Plan 4 Safety is a study to deliver and evaluate an online safety and health resource for women. iCAN Plan 4 Safety is the first interactive, internet-based safety decision aid for Canadian women experiencing intimate partner violence. The tool helps women weigh the dangers of leaving or staying in a relationship, and plan, based on their own priorities and living situation, safety strategies for themselves and their children.

Visit the iCAN Plan 4 Safety website to learn more.

CRiHHI members: Helen Brown (Principal Investigator)

Partnering with Cowichan Valley Safer Futures (CVSF), we are undertaking a project that is exploring the impacts of violence, marginalization and exclusion on women's community life and health and well-being in the Cowichan Valley that aims to address two research questions: How do experiences of marginalization and social exclusion influence women’s health, well-being and ability to participate in community life? What actions or systemic changes will facilitate safety, well-being and social inclusion as health promotion strategies?

Know How

CRiHHI members: Helen Brown (Principal Investigator), Gladys McPherson (Co-Principal Investigator), Colleen Varcoe (Co-Investigator)

The 'local know-how project' is being conducted in a partnership between researchers in the UBC School of Nursing and community leaders from the 'Namgis First Nation in Alert Bay. Our goals in this project are to enlist local knowledge to design and test the effectiveness of health actions that may enhance health among the youth and the elders of this community. This research is funded by the Vancouver Foundation Health & Medical Education/Research Grants.


CRiHHI members: Colleen Varcoe (Nominated Principal Investigator), Annette Browne (Co-Principal Investigator)

This five year study was named “Reclaiming Our Spirits” by the women who participated in the pilot phase. The study is developing and testing a complex health intervention to help address issues of trauma, violence and pain for Aboriginal women who have experienced partner violence. The study aims to: a) develop an indigenous way of seeing the health of Aboriginal women, b) use that approach to develop a health promoting intervention for Aboriginal women who have experienced intimate partner violence (IPV), and c) test its feasibility and helpfulness for women. This study draws on a previously developed intervention that has been pilot tested showing good effects, such as improvements in women’s quality of life, mental health, chronic pain, social support and sense of confidence which were maintained 6 months after the intervention ended. The previous intervention helped women with safety strategies, symptoms of trauma (such as insomnia and pain), getting basic life necessities, and looking after themselves and their relationships. The pilot of the intervention showed that the women found a circle supported by an Elder, cultural teachings and working with nurses all helped them to improve their health. The intervention is being tested in a full trial in 2014-2015.This project is funded by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research.

CRiHHI members: Sabrina Wong (Nominated Principal Investigator), Annette Browne (Co-Investigator)

The goal of the BC SPOR Network is to encourage, facilitate and support government, health authorities, and health professions to seek out, develop, and adopt health care innovations with promise to improve BC’s health care delivery system. To achieve this goal, we envision that the proposed BC SPOR Network will: 1) Enable the achievement of optimal health outcomes for residents of BC, particularly for those with complex care needs across the life course; and 2) Achieve greater efficiency and effectiveness within the health care system by bringing together knowledge users (KU), (e.g., health care professionals and other providers, managers and administrators), patients and their families, communities, and researchers so they can learn from each other, collectively generate new knowledge, and chart a common future. This project is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, SPOR Network in Primary and Integrative Health Care Innovations Development Grant.

TRANSFORM bw-Nov 2013 1st team meeting ottawa

CRiHHI members: Sabrina Wong (Nominated Principal Investigator), Annette Browne (Collaborator), Colleen Varcoe (Collaborator)

Public performance reporting has the potential to improve the quality of care, increase accountability, and facilitate public participation in healthcare. The overall goal of TRANSFORMATION is to demonstrate the feasibility and usefulness of comparative and comprehensive community-based primary health care (CBPHC) performance measurement and reporting to inform innovation of the Canadian PHC system.

Visit TRANSFORMATION's website to learn more.

HB Movember PIC_0057


CRiHHI members: Helen Brown (Principal Investigator), Colleen Varcoe (Co-Investigator)

Aboriginal men in Canada are significantly over-represented within the criminal justice system. Incarcerated men often have significant idle time on their hands, and this inactivity contributes to an institutional subculture associated with substance use, violence, gambling, debt, self-harm, and depression. The paramilitary and hypermasculine structures of prison life exacerbate pre-existing mental health problems; incarceration itself is hazardous to men's overall health and rehabilitation.

Through an initiative called Work 2 Give, Aboriginal inmates make items needed by some of Tsilhqot'in communities in BC. Supported by the Movember Foundation Innovation Fund, this research project focuses on how Work 2 Give impacts the inmates themselves and their rehabilitative processes, as well as the First Nations children and families receiving the needed food, clothing, furniture, and cultural items.

Listen here (starting from 0:30:25) to an interview about the project with Helen Brown and Sarah Jackman - Executive Director of the Punky Lake Wilderness Camp Society - on CBC's On the Coast from November 7, 2014.