Projects | NB Institute for Research, Data and Training (NB-IRDT) | UNB

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Research projects NB-IRDT platform data

NB-IRDT's platform data helps researchers answer questions that impact the health, well-being, and prosperity of New Brunswickers.

Principal investigator: Dr. Ted McDonald

MSSU researchers from three Maritime provinces: 

  • compared the distribution and organization of treatments for total hip and knee arthroplasty and cardiac surgical procedures across different regions of the province;
  • evaluated how patient outcomes vary within and across jurisdictions and as a function of travel times to the hospital; and
  • evaluated how cost and performance measures vary across hospitals offering these services within the province.

Report: Putting geographic variation in surgical procedures on the map (2016) 

Principal investigator: Dr. Colleen O'Connell

The Stan Cassidy Centre for Rehabilitation follows approximately 60 persons with ALS at a time. This project investigates the population of ALS patients, including patterns of incidence and prevalence, with particular focus on apparent clusters. The hypothesis is that the investigation will lead to the discovery of clusters of ALS in New Brunswick, contributing to our understanding and prediction of ALS.

Report: Under development

Principal investigator: Dr. Scott Ronis

Rates of mental health-related hospital admissions among youth in New Brunswick have risen to almost double the national average. This could be attributed a lack of primary health care and community-based mental health services, which have implications for service continuity and early diagnosis of mental health issues among children and youth who are at-risk of developing chronic mental health problems in adulthood.

This project contributes to health policy development in New Brunswick by addressing the lack of information known about the increasing number of youth admitted to hospital for mental health-related issues.

Report: Awaiting publication

Principal investigator: Dr. Ted McDonald

Recent legislation changes granted presumptive workers compensation coverage to New Brunswick firefighters who develop cancer. Since premiums are set on a cost-recovery basis, fund solvency requires that stakeholders have information on the typical cost associated with each type of cancer covered.

This project fills this information gap by estimating the cost per case of these cancers using New Brunswick patient level cost data. The cost estimates will be used to develop an estimate of the future cost to the workers’ compensation system.

Report: Available

Principal investigator: Dr. Phil Leonard

One of the justifications for closing smaller local hospital facilities in rural New Brunswick in favour of larger regional hospitals is that the quality of surgical outcomes may improve as doctors at larger hospitals perform higher volumes of a given surgery, thus becoming more experienced.

This study examines how patient outcomes vary with surgeon experience level. Is it the overall amount of experience (the total volume of total surgeries conducted) or the number of performances of a specific type of surgery that matters more for patient outcomes? Does the experience level of other doctors working at the same hospital have any impact?

Report: Hospital volumes and hip arthroplasty

Principal investigator: Dr. Dan Crouse

Proximity to health-care services has decreased over the past decade for some New Brunswick residents due to the closing or repurposing of 10 hospitals. This project to international health services literature and health policy development in New Brunswick by evaluating the direct implications of hospital closures on health outcomes, hospital readmissions, and rates of mortality.

Principal investigator: Dr. Paul Peters

Governments and other organizations make decisions that affect the future of small communities, including decisions about where, when, and whether to build or close schools, hospitals, shops, and small businesses. The importance of community-level decision making is particularly acute in sparsely populated and rural areas, where distance between settlements makes it difficult to share resources and the consequences of poor planning decisions are more likely to be economically and socially disruptive.

This project uses a small-area, probabilistic approach to population modelling to assist planners and policy makers and to underpin theories about human settlements in small communities of New Brunswick.

Population Snapshot 2017
Small Area Population Forecasts 2017
Small Area Cohort Component Model 2018
Small Area Simplified Model 2018

Principal investigator: Dr. Duncan Webster

The majority of emerging human infectious diseases are illnesses in animals that can be transmitted to humans. The most familiar of these illnesses to Canadians are the West Nile virus and Lyme disease.

This research will produce estimates of the prevalence of a select number of emerging zoonotic pathogens through an anonymized provincial serosurvey, using residual blood samples submitted for diagnostic tests as part of routine health checkups. In order to determine whether these samples are representative of the population, the findings were compared to patient-level data at NB-IRDT. This research will inform public health policymaking in future.

Report: No report anticipated

Principal investigator: Dr. Jimmy Bourque

The goal of this project is to evaluate the economic burden of mental health disorders among New Brunswickers aged 11 to 25 years old. This project examines costs associated with hospitalizations and visits to physicians, estimates the prevalence of young people hospitalized, determines the duration of each hospitalization over 15 years, estimates suicidality, and analyzes the prevalence of mental health disorders.

Report: Awaiting publication

Principal investigator: Dr. Ansar Hassan

Studies have demonstrated the deleterious effect of geographic distance (i.e., having a remote geographic place of residence) on access to cardiac care across Canada. This project examines the impact of distance on longer-term outcomes of catheterization, such as repeat cardiac procedure, cardiac readmission, and survival.

Report: Under development

Principal investigator: Dr. Dan Crouse

The effectiveness of breast cancer screening has been the subject of extensive research. The relationship between breast cancer screening and the nature and extent of the disease at diagnosis has been much less explored.

Previous research has established that breast cancer screening patterns vary by geographic characteristics (e.g., urban vs. rural) and by socio-demographic characteristics (e.g., age and education). The importance of the particular screening method used is not yet well understood.

This study examines how screening participation translates into differences in outcomes – in particular, differences in favourability of tumour characteristics at time of detection.

Report: Under development

Principal investigator: Dr. Sarah Pakzad

This project examines the effect of interventions on the evolution of Alzheimer’s disease or related disorders in people aged 65 or older. Its objective is to understand, refine, improve, and facilitate dissemination and scale-up of successful and sustainable collaborative care models.

This project evaluates innovative care models on primary care dementia in terms of continuity of care, quality of follow-up, detection, diagnosis, and access to specialists. It also examines what policies and procedures are in place, what types of health professionals are employed, and what patient population is being served.

Report: Under development

Principal investigator: Dr. Paul Peters

This project measures and models how rates of chronic disease vary with population shifts at the local level. These small-area rate variations and projection scenarios are essential to inform New Brunswick health policy and research.

Report: Report available

Principal investigator: Dr. Carole Tranchant

The Maritime Provinces experience a higher prevalence of obesity and chronic diseases than other Canadian provinces. Early interventions in expectant families and families with young children are a promising approach to promoting health and preventing or delaying the development of chronic disease.

However, evidence is often insufficient to assess the effectiveness of early years’ interventions. New Brunswick and P.E.I. have started to collect more data on infants, young children, and women in the perinatal period. This project uses these datasets to produce comprehensive provincial-level health profiles of young children and longitudinal projects with a focus on reducing obesity and chronic disease.

Report: Under development

Principal investigator: Dr. James French

Injury-related deaths have a significant impact in New Brunswick. In 2010, injuries resulted in 6,000+ hospitalizations and 76,000+ emergency room visits, with 420 deaths resulting from traumatic injuries. Estimates of the total cost of injury are upwards of $690 million annually. Evidence-based injury prevention is one key strategy to mitigating some of these impacts, and this report takes advantage of the opportunity to better define and understand trauma mortality in New Brunswick.

This study is the basis for a program of trauma mortality research that will expand to include patient characteristics and eventually build predictive models of survival for trauma patients in the province. It draws on administrative data and data from the largest single injury register in New Brunswick – the NB Trauma Registry (NBTR) – to characterize trauma injury and mortality burden in New Brunswick. Its first step is to create a basic description of the number of trauma-related deaths recorded in each dataset; to determine more precise estimates of crude and direct age-sex standardized mortality rates; and, to understand the possible undercount of mortality in the NBTR. The study also considers where in patients’ care deaths are occurring – pre-hospital, in hospital, or post-hospital (and how long after discharge).

Report: Under development

Principal investigator: Dr. Ted McDonald

New Brunswick has sought to attract immigrants as part of a broader strategy aimed at increasing the province’s working-age population. The provincial government has also invested significant resources in ensuring refugees choose to remain here.

An important determinant of the success of this strategy is that refugees generate economic activity greater than the economic costs of hosting them, one such main cost being the provision of health care.

This project uses administrative data to study immigrant and refugee outcomes that are of great interest to the Province of New Brunswick: particularly retention and health service use.

Report: Report available

Dr. Neeru Gupta

The prevalence of diabetes has increased rapidly in New Brunswick in the last 15 years. The factors associated with screening access, primary care practices and monitoring of glycemic targets for diabetes management and subsequent health-care utilization and health outcomes among people with diagnosed diabetes remain largely unknown.

This project profiles the prevalence and correlates of access to care for diabetes prevention and control in New Brunswick to inform policy and programs leading to healthy populations, sustainable health system investments and better patient care experiences.

Report: Under development

Principal investigator: Dr. Pamela Jarrett

Trauma registry data indicates that fall-related hospitalizations occur between 70% to 85% of New Brunswick seniors. This project will study hip fractures as a common issue with significant impact on health-care costs, home-care strategies, and trauma care.

This study examines which factors are predictive of better outcomes, and identifies variations in length of stay, where patients were discharged to, patient mortality, and access to services in communities for those with limited mobility.

Report: Under development

Dr. Sandra Magalhaes

This research project studies the distribution of multiple sclerosis (MS) in NB and examines the link between environmental air pollution and MS risk and health care utilization.

Report: Under development

Dr. Ted McDonald

As populations age, there is a corresponding rise in incidence of non-traumatic spinal cord injury, resulting in loss of muscle function and sensation. Since approximately 16% of New Brunswick residents are age 65 or older, the correlation between age and non-traumatic spinal cord disorders has particular relevance for New Brunswick.

Using administrative health data, Phase 1 of this study aims to create a profile of incidence and discharge disposition among individuals with non-traumatic spinal cord disorders in New Brunswick. In collaboration with Stan Cassidy Center for Rehabilitation, Phase II of the study will involve using the algorithm’s output to compare results from chart reviews that identify patients with a non-traumatic spinal cord disorder.

Report: Under development

Principal investigator: Dr. Pamela Jarrett

Without access to dementia diagnosis, treatment, and continuity of care, those with dementia are more likely to have fragmented care resulting in inefficient and costly health care use, including increased emergency visits, hospital admissions and nursing home care. There is a paucity of research examining trends in primary care and health services for patients with dementia. Thus, the present study examines population-level trends in the quality of care and health service use for newly diagnosed persons with dementia in the last 15 years in New Brunswick.

Data on quality of care and health service use will be collected for one year following the index date of diagnosis of dementia for each study subject and will be analyzed to identify population-level change in quality of care and health care utilization over time.

Report: Under development

Principal investigator: Dr. Danielle Bouchard

Many older adults consider the ability to carry out daily activities a high priority, and regular physical activity is the foundation to maintaining this ability. To help older adults achieve these goals, many non-profit and for-profit exercise programs are offered in communities across Canada. Recreation New Brunswick has evaluated 10% of these exercise programs, but the vast majority of older adults in NB participate in exercise programs for which the efficacy is unknown.

Given Recreation NB’s findings that peer-led exercise programs are successful, the NB-IRDT portion or this study will use administrative data to evaluate the existing outcomes collected after participating in a peer-led exercise program, and compare the available outcomes with a control group.

Report: Under development

Principal investigator: Dr. Philip Leonard

Of the Canadian provinces, New Brunswick has been identified as having the lowest rate of immigrant retention. The proposed study will identify factors influencing retention rates in the province and will perform an analysis of the incidence of immigrants whose intended province for landing is New Brunswick, but who do not actually move to NB.

This project examines which stream of immigrants have a higher probability of remaining in the province, what characteristics the majority of leavers possess and if they can they treated as causal, and if the Atlantic Immigration Pilot program has higher retention figures compared to other immigration programs.

Immigrant retention in New Brunswick (Colour)
Immigrant retention in New Brunswick (Greyscale)

Principal investigator: Dr. Philip Leonard

New Brunswick is the only province in Canada that recently experienced population decline. Moreover, intra-provincial migration patterns show a trend towards urbanization. The decreasing rural population in New Brunswick raises some questions: Should policymakers try to reverse this pattern? Does closing a public facility in rural areas accelerate depopulation? If so, should government keep these facilities open to either reverse or prevent rural outmigration?

This project investigates the link between public assets and population retention in rural New Brunswick and to find out whether closing public facilities including hospitals, schools, and libraries has any effect on migration patterns in rural areas in the province.

Report: Under development

Principal investigator: Dr. Ted McDonald

New Brunswick (NB) Canada uses its breast cancer screening service program to assess the extent to which eligible NB women are complying with mammography guidelines. While many studies have investigated factors associated with participation in periodic breast cancer screening in Canada and elsewhere, most work has relied on self-reported surveys or smaller scale primary data collection.

Report: Participation and retention in the breast cancer screening program in New Brunswick Canada