Home   Services   Training   Blog   FAQ   About   Contact  

Original image by Daniel Nanescu, licensed under Creative Commons.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is SPOR?

The Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR)'s Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research (SPOR) is a nationwide initiative focused on improving outcomes for users of Canada's healthcare system by fostering and supporting a research culture oriented around achieving real-world impacts for patients and their families.

Why is SPOR necessary?

Although biomedical "bench" research forms the basis from which almost every medical intervention springs, fewer than 20% of biomedical discoveries are translated into a possible device, medication or therapy. Fewer still are translated from the prototype stage into day-to-day practice. As those new interventions are brought online, there is a paucity of research comparing their effectiveness to interventions in practice. The research which does occur is almost always researcher-driven, with no input from the health-care system users themselves as to where their research priorities lie.
There is a clear, defined need in Canada for a system-wide overhaul of research practices to refocus the efforts of healthcare researchers on realizing positive outcomes for the patients themselves, driven from the bottom-up.
Additional information about SPOR can be found here: http://www.cihr-irsc.gc.ca/e/41204.html

What is SUPPORT?

An integral part of the SPOR initiative is the creation of jurisdictional SUpport for People and Patient-Oriented Research and Trials (SUPPORT) Units across Canada. Each SUPPORT Unit will be a multi-disciplinary methodological research support centre, focused on creating the resources necessary to facilitate patient-oriented research which addresses the needs of each jurisdiction, as determined in consultation with the users in that region.
Additional information about SUPPORT can be found here: http://www.cihr-irsc.gc.ca/e/45859.html


Housed within the new Craig L. Dobbin Research Centre at the Faculty of Medicine, the Newfoundland and Labrador SUPPORT Unit (NL SUPPORT) is a multi-agency partnership between IBM, the CIHR, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, Memorial University, and other agencies across the jurisdiction with a focus on applied health research and patient data. Instead of simply pursuing its own programme of research, NL SUPPORT will create a pool of resources available to any researcher in the jurisdiction whose interests fall under the mandate of SPOR. These resources can include: database linkages and data analysis, biostatistical and epidemiological support, project management support, assistance with study design, change policy analysis and more; resources will be allocated according to jurisdictional priority areas identified in close collaboration with policymakers and researchers, as well as patients, caregivers and other healthcare system users.
What will NL SUPPORT do, specifically?
NL SUPPORT will provide research support and training, broadly divided into six linked core functions:

Data Platforms and Services

  • Database linkages and data analysis for jurisdictional de-identified patient data sets
Methods Support and Services
  • Providing methodological support services and research methods development in areas such as biostatistics and clinical epidemiology
Applied Health Systems Research, Knowledge Translation and Implementation
  • Expanding jurisdictional capacity for AHSR, KT and policy implementation
Real World Clinical Trials
  • Expanding jurisdictional capacity for running comparative effectiveness trials, clinical trials, and making those trials more efficient for the parties involved
Career Development and Training in Methods and Health Systems Research
  • Training in patient-oriented research methods for researchers and students, including new career development and graduate programs
Consultation and Research Services
  • Providing other research support services for patient-oriented research such as study design, policy change analysis, and project management
I keep hearing TPMI and SPOR mentioned together; how are they related?
The Translational and Personalized Medicine Initiative (TPMI) is a large-scale research initiative in partnership with private industry, the federal government, the provincial government, and the University, involving many of the same projects, personnel and agencies that will be involved in NL SUPPORT. In fact, they are so closely related that NL SUPPORT falls under the leadership of the TPMI, along with their sister unit, the Centre for Health Informatics and Analytics (CHIA).

What is CHIA?
CHIA is a new and unique data analytics unit which will also be housed within the Craig L. Dobbin Research Centre, taking advantage of a wealth of computational infrastructure to provide researchers in the province with fast, accurate linkages and analysis of patient datasets. Each project undertaken under CHIA will first comply with the Personal Health Information Act recently legislated with the province of NL and also require research ethics board approval.  In order to protect patient information, these datasets – under the custodianship of the Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Health Informatics (NLCHI) – will be de-identified prior to being made available to CHIA.
What about the SPOR Networks? How are they related?
Through the SPOR initiative, CIHR is supporting a number of strategies aimed at redressing the gaps in Canadian health research in addition to SUPPORT, including: training and capacity development in patient-oriented research, a nationwide program to regularize and streamline the process of initiating clinical trials, strategies for improving patient engagement in health research, and the creation of new patient-oriented research networks across the country. CIHR launched two SPOR networks in 2013-2014: the Network in Youth and Adolescent Mental Health, and the Network in Primary and Integrated Health Care Innovations.
  • Network in Youth and Adolescent Mental Health 
This research network aims to improve the care provided to young Canadians with mental illness by translating promising research findings into practice and policy.
  • Network in Primary and Integrated Health Care Innovations
The SPOR Network in Primary and Integrated Health Care Innovations’ goal is to support evidence-informed transformation and delivery of primary and integrated healthcare to improve individual and population health, health equity, and health system outcomes. The Network’s scope includes a focus on: individuals with complex needs across the life course showing capacity to evolve the network's scope over time to include age groups from children to older adults; and, multi-sector integration of upstream prevention strategies and care delivery models.
Although the SPOR Networks and SPOR SUPPORT Units are both funded through the SPOR initiative, the two are not linked except through a shared interest in patient-oriented research. SPOR Network research may take advantage of the new infrastructure offered by the Unit, but the primary research focus of NL SUPPORT will reflect the needs of the jurisdiction.
Additional information about the SPOR Networks, including contact information, can be found here: http://www.cihr-irsc.gc.ca/e/45854.htm