PHIRNET is about equipping Canada for the “sea-change” that is coming in population health.

We refer to the switch of attention from studying the causes and determinants of health problems, “to the science and practice of solving them”, the field known as population health intervention research(PHIR).

Eight universities (UDalhousie; UMontreal (lead site); UOttawa; UToronto; UMcMaster; UManitoba; UCalgary & UBC) are combining to construct the PHIRNET training program.

The PHIRNET training program:

1) focuses on four main themes/priority areas in PHIR (methods; economic evaluation, ethics and research governance; and interventions addressing social health inequalities);

2) produces and delivers a shared curriculum around key competencies in PHIR ( 1) systematic and critical enquiry (i.e., research design and methods); 2) situational analysis (designing research to local context and needs); 3) project management (e.g., budgeting, task coordination etc); 4) professional practice (e.g., integrity, ethics, standards of behaviour); 5) reflective practice (i.e., what makes research an intellectual exercise and not simply a technical one); and 6) interpersonal skills (e.g., working in teams, motivating others) );

3) develops web based resources for learning within and beyond the STIHR network;

4) recruits students and facilitates training pathways across the seven sites;

5) facilitates learning in both official languages; and

6) partners with the National Collaborating Centres for Public Health (NCC PH) in order to maximize contacts and relationships between producers of primary PHIR, those committed to synthesizing this knowledge and end users (decision-makers and practitioners).

With the demand and need for PHIR increasing in connection with the pressure to develop evidence-informed public health practices, PHIRNET’s STIHR addresses how the supply of skilled researchers will be met.

PHIRNET’s STIHR also has the objective of enable PHIR learning and resources in both official languages, and disseminate these resources more broadly.

The goals of PHIRNET are three fold:

  • to increase the number of trainees with PHIR expertise, who affiliate with PHIR and develop PHIR careers;
  • to embed Network curriculum and recruitment strategies permanently into the procedures of participating institutions; and
  • to improve the overall quality of training in PHIR across Canada .

PHIRNET has been funded by CIHR for a six year period beginning April 2009.