On a day-to-day basis, most of the research we do relates to managing and preventing obesity in children. However, a number of years ago, one of my mentors gave me advice to ‘branch out’ a bit to develop additional research interests and projects, especially ones that were complementary to the studies I spent most of my time on.
This suggestion led me to participate in (and learn from!) studies related to food insecurity and the health of First Nations children, collaborations that have informed some of the participatory research we’re now doing in primary care to prevent childhood obesity.
The research we continue to lead regarding engagement and attrition in weight management led to discussions with academic and administrative colleagues who lead quality improvement projects to improve clinical services in the Department of Pediatrics (UAlberta) and our local Stollery Children’s Hospital (SCH), especially in regards to the utilization of clinical space, appointment bookings, and communication (internally with health care professionals; externally with families).
As a small part of the local commitment toward continuous quality improvement, we learned yesterday that we were successful in receiving an Innovation Grant from the Women and Children’s Health Research Institute (UAlberta) to (1) explore stakeholders’ (health care professionals, administrative personnel, families) experiences with and perceptions of the strengths and limitations of the outpatient clinical appointment scheduling services and (2) prioritize stakeholders’ recommendations to optimize the performance of the outpatient clinical appointment scheduling services for the SCH. The data we collect will have a direct impact on potential changes (and improvements) to our health services for families. We expect to start this qualitative study in fall, 2017, so will send along updates once we get rolling.
Our success highlights how experience and skills acquired from one field of research can be applied to another; it also demonstrates how applied research can be used to explore clinically meaningful issues that determine how health services are organized and offered to families in our hospital.