Mark Dobrow

PhD (University of Toronto)
MSc (University of Edinburgh)

Professional Interests

My professional interests focus on improving our understanding and use (identification, interpretation and application) of different types of evidence (e.g., research, contextual and experiential) to inform and improve health system/policy decisions.

Research Interests

Health policy; health services research; knowledge translation; evidence utilization; contextual evidence; policy decision support/guidance; performance management; cancer systems/policy


Influenced by opportunities to work in both national and provincial health care agencies, I seek to have impact on health systems and policy in practical and applied ways. My research on the impact of context on the use of evidence has included work with many jurisdictions and health care organizations in Canada and internationally, including the World Health Organization, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and a number of European cancer agencies.

I have also worked with colleagues and graduate students to develop practical and user-friendly tools to support the sharing and spreading of health information, particularly the types of information that do not typically show up on traditional health research databases. These include the development of the Health Council of Canada’s Health Innovation Portal, the development of a quality improvement project repository for IDEAS (Improving and Driving Excellence Across Sectors – a quality improvement training program supported by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care), and contextual evidence search tools/services with Cancer Care Ontario.

Cancer systems and particularly cancer screening policy are key areas of interest. I have led a number of studies that examine the impact of context on population-based screening decisions, including a project that consolidated 45 years of evolving approaches for guiding screening decisions into a new set of decision principles of screening. This focus has influenced pan-Canadian discussions on improving approaches to making screening decisions across sectors and jurisdictions, including a Health Council of Canada sponsored deliberative dialogue hosted by the McMaster Health Forum.



Additional Recent Publications

Dobrow MJ, Abbott JG, Kitts J. What the loss of the Health Council of Canada means for Canadians. Essays, 2014, March.

Burchett HED, Mayhew SH, Lavis JN, Dobrow MJ.  The usefulness of different types of health research: perspectives from a low-income country.  Evidence & Policy, in press.

Burchett HED, Lavis JN, Mayhew SH, Dobrow MJ.  Perceptions of the usefulness and use of research conducted in other countries.  Evidence & Policy, 2012; 8(1), 7-16.

Dobrow MJ. Guest Editorial: Does evidence-based medicine represent a useful model for evidence-based policy? Clinical Evidence, 26 August 2010.

Sullivan T, Dobrow MJ, Schneider E, Newcomer L, Richards M, Wilkinson L, Borella L, Lepage C, Glossmann GP, Walshe R. Améliorer la responsabilité cliniques et performance en cancérologie [Improving clinical accountability and performance in the cancer field]. Pratiques et Organisation des Soins [Practices and Organization of Care], 2008; 39(3), 207-215.

Dobrow MJ, Chafe R, Burchett H, Culyer AC, Lemieux-Charles L. Designing deliberative methods for combining heterogeneous evidence: a systematic review and qualitative scan. Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement, Ottawa. 2009.