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SPPH co-authored paper wins Article of the Year

May 26, 2017 |

A paper co-authored by School of Population and Public Health (SPPH) researchers has won the CIHR Institute of Health Services and Policy Research (IHSPR) 2016-17 Article of the Year award.

The award was presented to first author Emilie Gladstone, who worked as a pharmaceutical policy researcher at SPPH during the time of the research under the supervision of co-authors Professor Steve Morgan and Adjunct Professor Kate Smolina, and to lead author and Ontario Drug Policy Research Network scientific lead Tara Gomes in Toronto today (May 26th.)

‘Sensitivity and specificity of administrative mortality data for identifying prescription opioid-related deaths’ was a collaboration between the SPPH team and Ms Gomes’ Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences team, Ms Gladstone said.

Emilie Gladstone

Article of the Year award winner Emilie Gladstone

It looked at methods used to measure prescription opioid-related deaths using national vital statistics data, compared with the gold-standard of Ontario coroner’s data, and found that four of the five algorithms were accurate more than 80% of the time.

Ms Gladstone said despite the overdose crisis, nationally representative estimates of opioid-related deaths in Canada did not currently exist, and historically researchers had had to rely on provincial-level statistics largely restricted to Ontario and British Columbia. A standardized methodology was important to ensure that when researchers examined regional variations, they could be sure they were measuring true differences in death rates, and not in reporting methodologies, she said.

Now working as a health systems planning advisor with Vancouver Coastal Health, Ms Gladstone said she wrote her Master of Public Health thesis on the topic of regional differences in opioid-related deaths.

Kate Smolina

Adjunct Professor Kate Smolina

“When I began working at SPPH with Dr. Steve Morgan and Dr. Kate Smolina, they encouraged me to continue to pursue this interest and I am extremely grateful for their guidance, support, and their significant contributions to this paper.”
Article of the Year award winner Emilie Gladstone

The paper was one of several studies about prescription opioid use and related harms conducted as an SPPH team, with the broader work co-led by Dr. Smolina, then a Banting Postdoctoral Fellow.

Dr. Smolina, now director of the BC Observatory for Population and Public Health at the BC Centre for Disease Control, won the CIHR-IHSPR Rising Star award while supervised by Dr. Morgan, who won the 2016 CIHR-IHSPR Article of the Year award.

Steve Morgan

Professor Steve Morgan

Dr. Smolina said due to significant regional differences in how opioids were used, it was important to have region-specific information which could be used to compare different jurisdictions, as well as for painting a national picture. The authors hoped the paper would be helpful to colleagues preparing to analyze their regional opioid data. 

“More broadly, the opioid crisis is one of the biggest public health challenges du jour and the more information we have about it, the better equipped we are to respond.”
Adjunct Professor Kate Smolina

Dr. Morgan said the paper was an excellent example of what SPPH researchers and trainees could do when they pursued their academic passion with rigor and commitment to population and public health.

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