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Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 95, Issue 6, pp 434–436 | Cite as

Assumptions, Ambiguities, and Possibilities in Interdisciplinary Population Health Research

  • Kyle WhitfieldEmail author
  • Colleen Reid
Commentary

Abstract

The rhetoric of “interdisciplinary,” “multi-disciplinary,” and “transdisciplinary” permeates many population health research projects, funding proposals, and strategic initiatives. Working across, with, and between disciplines is touted as a way to advance knowledge, answer more complex questions, and work more meaningfully with users of research. From our own experiences and involvement in the 2003 CIHR Institute for Public and Population Health’s Summer Institute, interdisciplinary population health research (IPHR) remains ambiguously defined and poorly understood. In this commentary, we critically explore some characteristics and ongoing assumptions associated with IPHR and propose questions to ensure a more deliberate research process. It is our hope that population health researchers and the CIHR will consider these questions to help strengthen IPHR.

Résumé

Un grand nombre de projets de recherche, de propositions de financement et d’initiatives stratégiques en santé de la population s’appuient sur des notions d’interdisciplinarité, de pluridisciplinarité et de transdisciplinarité. La collaboration à l’échelle et à l’intérieur de plusieurs disciplines serait un moyen de faire progresser les connaissances, de répondre aux questions d’une grande complexité et d’approfondir la collaboration avec les utilisateurs de la recherche. D’après notre expérience et notre participation, en 2003, à l’atelier d’été de l’Institut de la santé publique et des populations des IRSC, la recherche interdisciplinaire en santé de la population (RISP) demeure une notion mal comprise et dont la définition est ambiguë. Dans ce commentaire, nous procédons à l’analyse critique de certaines des caractéristiques et des hypothèses courantes associées à la RISP et nous posons quelques questions pour éclairer le processus. Nous espérons que les chercheurs en santé de la population et les IRSC étudieront ces questions afin de renforcer la RISP.

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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Environmental Studies School of PlanningUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada
  2. 2.Institute for Health Research and EducationSimon Fraser UniversityBurnabyCanada

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