1) Strategy Design and Evaluation:
(a) Developing and implementing an innovative approach (Intervention Path Contribution Analysis) to evaluating the Smoke-free Ontario Strategy. I have led an initiative to improve the sophistication of this approach by adapting a system dynamics model culminating in the development of SimSmoke Ontario. I also initiated and, with colleagues from around the world, successfully completed an edited volume that describes and assesses innovative approaches to complex strategy evaluation in several substantive health and social welfare policy areas. Recently, I have designed an Alcohol Strategy Model for Ontario and have an interest in research, design and evaluation of strategies across substantive areas.
(b) Tobacco Control Policy: My research in tobacco control has spanned: anti-contraband policy measures; generating evidence to inform cessation system reform; Point of sale and total display ban policy evaluation; Research on E-cigarettes; Research on Tobacco Reduction in Aboriginal Communities; Tobacco Endgame; Effects of bans on outdoor smoking, flavoured tobacco, menthol cigarettes.
2) Accountability, Evaluation, Performance Measurement and Management: My second current research program area is in accountability, evaluation, performance measurement and management. I have led the public health accountability arm of a CIHR Partnership in Health System Improvement (PHSI) grant. and have collaborated on a study of public health accountability in a global health setting using similar concepts and measures. A CIHR expedited knowledge synthesis grant has funded work on a systematic review of public health performance measurement and management. As Chair of the Center for Accountability and Performance of the American Society for Public Administration I convened a workshop that culminated in a special journal issue on the state of performance measurement and evaluation. Previous work on accountability yielded several manuscripts, including an award winning one in the highest ranking public administration journal. I have a long-standing interest and research record in understanding system level aspects of the evaluation enterprise. In addition to several peer-reviewed articles, as a long-standing member of the International Evaluation Research Group, I have edited two books and written several chapters about the evaluation enterprise.
3) Health Policy Change: I have a longstanding interest and research program on the determinants of policy change, including the role of evidence in policy change. The CIHR Strategic Training Program in Public Health Policy has afforded me the opportunity to train fellows in analyzing public health policy change and through research and training pod work and Institute trainings, we now have established a wealth of case studies that apply theoretical frameworks to understanding when and why change does and does not occur. Several of these have been presented at conference panels and workshops and some are now published. An award winning manuscript examined policy change in light of public health crises. A seminal study of ten major health system policy decisions in Israel that explored the role of evidence in decision-making was published as a manuscript in a high impact UK public administration journal. Previously, I studied the politics of using evaluation and performance audit findings in decision-making in health and social programs, yielding several manuscripts.
As Editor-in-Chief of the Canadian Journal of Program Evaluation, I promote the advancement of knowledge in this profession. I contribute to tobacco control in Ontario and Canada in my role as Executive Director of the Ontario Tobacco Research Unit. And I contribute to public health policy through my leadership of the Collaborative Program in Public Health Policy.
I have made substantial academic and applied research contributions in population health, by successfully applying my expertise in accountability, policy change, evaluation, performance measurement and management to public health policy research and training. My research contributions in public health policy include: policy change and oversight ethics studies of the Walkerton water tragedy; research and evaluation of tobacco control policies (smoke-free policies, promotion and display bans, anti-contraband policies, cessation system and youth prevention policies); study, development and implementation of innovative approaches to complex public health strategy evaluation taking into account synergies, and feedback loops; and CIHR funded studies on the development and implementation of accountability, performance measurement and management policies in public health systems. Each of these research pursuits has yielded numerous peer reviewed publications, research reports, conference presentations and invited addresses.
My CIHR Strategic Training Program in Public Health Policy grant has focused a considerable amount of my attention on a broad range of public health policy areas with a multi-disciplinary community of scholars. This innovative program is the first of its kind to bring a broad range of disciplines together to focus training specifically on public health policy.