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Health in Populations

Key Canadian health policy challenges include sustained poor health outcomes for Indigenous populations: analysis

An analysis of Canada’s health-care system has highlighted three key health policy challenges, including sustained poor health outcomes for Indigenous populations.

Indigenous people face higher risk of transportation injuries in British Columbia

Indigenous people in British Columbia suffered transportation-related injuries at a rate 1.89 times higher than the province’s total population between 1991 and 2010, a new University of B.C. study has found.

SPPH community helping to launch BC Global Health network

School of Population and Public Health students, faculty, and alumni are helping to launch a global health network in British Columbia.

Study finds no added risk for home births in rural areas

Elizabeth Nethery, a PhD student in the school of population and public health, compared the outcomes for rural women who have babies at home to those in other, more populated, parts of the U.S., to investigate access to care in rural areas. Photo credit: Jason Lander / flickr. This photo has been cropped

Young Indigenous people who use drugs in BC 13 times more likely to die than young Canadians

A new study by The Cedar Project demonstrates that young Indigenous people who use drugs in BC are dying at an alarming rate – nearly 13 times Canadians their age

Health in Populations addresses population health perspectives on improving the health and well-being of Indigenous peoples, women, children, youth and their families; and, the determinants of population health, including social, biological, and developmental forces, throughout the life course from birth to death.

Global and Indigenous Health Theme

Key goals of the Indigenous and Global Health Theme will be the recruitment and education of Indigenous health professionals to address persistent health disparities and to promote self-determination by increasing Indigenous leadership in health and health care, and the provision of the training necessary for all health professionals to work more effectively with Aboriginal people and organizations. Working with Indigenous peoples, the theme members examine and aim to provide scientific knowledge applicable to improving or preserving the health status of populations experiencing disparities of health. Delivering services and conducting research with people living globally requires a unique set of skills that stem from a sound understanding of the key issues and effective culturally-safe strategies. We are committed to ensuring that research processes open pathways for Indigenous peoples in Canada and abroad are self-determining, self-governing, and build community capacity and trust in research and understanding.

Faculty within the Division come from a wide range of disciplines and academic/service backgrounds that include public health, health systems, clinical, behavioural, applied and social sciences as well as sectors corresponding to a wide range of health determinants. A number of research centres also linked to the Division include the Centre for Excellence in Indigenous Health, provincial UBC-affiliated hospitals, BC Centre for Disease Control, UBC International Health Centre, BC Children’s Hospital-Centre for International Child Health, and the Centre for Health Evaluation and Outcome Sciences.

Maternal-Child Health Theme

The goal of the Maternal-Child Health (MCH) theme is to improve the health and well-being of women, children, youth and their families. Maternal and Child Health, within Public Health, takes a population-based perspective on research, education, advocacy, and administration.

Students interested in this area can follow a curriculum in physical and cognitive development, health problems, relevant health services and policies, appropriate research methods, and program planning and evaluation. Typically, MCH practitioners are involved with infrastructure building (e.g. needs assessment to identify essential gaps in existing programs serving mothers and children, enhancement of information systems, standards development), population health monitoring (e.g. incidence of very low birth weight infants, incidence of adolescent suicide) and applied prevention research (e.g. planning and evaluation of home-based injury prevention programs for toddlers). MCH works at a systems level to complement direct services provided by clinical practice providers.

Social and Life Course Determinants of Health Theme

The Social and Life Course Determinants of Health theme features interdisciplinary perspectives on the determinants of population health throughout the life course including social, biological, and developmental forces. We also examine program and policy responses to these determinants. Students and faculty use qualitative and/or quantitative approaches to examine how well-being and illness evolve from birth to death.


The Social and Life Course (SLC) theme features intersecting perspectives, including social, cultural, biological, and developmental perspectives on population health. In SLC theme courses, students will have opportunities to use qualitative and/or quantitative approaches to examine how health and illness are generated through the intersections of age, gender, culture, place, and class. Students identifying with the SLC theme will develop a working knowledge of theories, methodologies, and substantive issues related to the social determinants of health throughout the life course.

SLC Theme Foundation Courses

In addition to SPPH core curriculum, we propose an additional set of SLC theme foundation courses.

SPPH 527 (3) Social Determinants of Health
This course will provide an introduction to some of the foundational thinking that has given rise to the concept of population health and an overview of the current state of research related to the determinants of health, with an emphasis on the social determinants of health.

SPPH 544 (3) Social Determinants of Health Across the Life Course
The social determinants of health have profound impacts on inequities across the life course, as do population-level interventions. Builds on SPPH 527, with an emphasis on life course perspectives and vulnerable populations.

SLC Theme Course Electives

In addition to SLC foundation courses, we encourage students to select elective courses from SPPH and other faculties and disciplines across the university. The following list includes elective graduate-level courses offered by SLC theme members and affiliates:

SPPH 581M (3) Seminar Series in Early Child Development as a Social Determinant of Population Health
This course provides students with a unique opportunity to learn in depth about early child development as a social determinant of health. It will explore critical controversies and current research trends in early child development, from life course, interdisciplinary, applied, cross-cultural, and ecological perspectives.

SPPH 545/546 (1.5/1.5) Community Health Promotion: Theoretical Basis / Community Health Promotion: Practice
Seminar applying social and behavioural theories to research on planning, implementation and health care, and health promotion / Seminar that critically examines the practice of community health promotion, including its historical and philosophical roots.

ECED 425A/ECED 530A (3) Early Childhood Development, Intervention, and Inclusion in Early Childhood Programs
This course introduces students to the field of early childhood development and intervention. It covers typical and atypical development in the following areas: cognitive/academic, social/emotional, motor, language/communication and adaptive/self-help. Major developmental disorders and conditions that are associated with these developmental areas will be covered.

SOCI 584A (3) Health, Illness, and Society
Health has long been a popular and vibrant area of study for sociologists. This graduate seminar course is designed to serve as an introduction to the broad area of study termed the “sociology of health” or “medical sociology.” It aims to cover a variety of topics that will provide the student with an appreciation of some of the many facets that sociology has to offer for examining health issues.



Global and Indigenous Health Theme

Maternal-Child Health Theme

Social and Life Course Determinants of Health Theme


Division Head:
Patricial Spittal