Realist Research at its core attempts to look at an intervention and ask the questions: what works, for whom, in what circumstances, in what respects and how. In the context of healthcare, it helps us recognize that there is no “one-size fits all” solution.
Why Realist Research?
It was when I became interested in gaining a deeper, more nuanced understanding of the ways Indigenous cancer patients make informed decisions about their care and how they interface with the healthcare system that I came across Realist Methodology. To me, realist methodology seemed the most appropriate way to explore not only what influences the decision-making process of Indigenous patients, but how to create patient supports that are both culturally safe and culturally appropriate in nature.
I have used realist methodology to produce a framework for Shared Decision Making (SDM) in general, as well as a refined model for the Saskatchewan Indigenous context, which was published with the BMC journal Systematic Reviews.
My sponsored research has allowed me the opportunity to pursue research that furthers health equity among Indigenous populations, meeting the Indigenous priority of the University, College of Medicine and has positioned the University of Saskatchewan as a global research hub for Indigenous Realist Research.
Advancing Realist Research at the University of Saskatchewan
In addition to conducting realist projects, I have been working to advance the field of Realist methodology at our university. In the spring of 2018, my team coordinated a week-long realist methodology summer school training course (Get Real 2018), and for the past few years have hosted an interdisciplinary University of Saskatchewan realist Support group that meets monthly to discuss the methodology and its complexities.
I have been fortunate enough to have developed research collaborations with two international leaders in Realist Research: Dr. Gill Westhorp of Darwin University in Australia and France Légaré of Laval University, and
In 2017, I was invited to Charles Darwin University along with my research team which included Indigenous community partners, to collaborate on future international Indigenous research projects between the CDU and the U of S. While in Darwin, we also gave a public presentation to members on CDU on our current Indigenous Research Projects which are focusing on increasing trust and aligning Indigenous world view within the medical consultation process.
As a program expert of the University of Laval’s Dr. France Legare’s research team, our project "SUCCEED/SUCCÈS: Scaling-Up shared decision making for patient-Centred Health and social care" was awarded at IRSC/CIHR Foundation grant amounting to roughly $3.5 million.