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Health and Social Service Utilization Research Unit
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Research is an Opportunity for

Health Promotion


Dr. Gina Browne, Ph.D., Reg. N.

Founder and Director

System-Linked Research Unit



In our research projects, we make explicit the underlying assumptions that have guided health services research for vulnerable populations.  A concerted effort is made to think oppositely and of alternative and more favourable assumptions about the groups.  Continuing to view vulnerable populations as a “problem-to-be-solved” perpetuates their predicament.  Even the word vulnerable connotes weakness.  Our choice of words

directs our thinking.  As researchers we can choose to think alternatively about groups of people who survive or thrive in the face of adversity; who do not entirely succumb to challenges.  We can seek to discover what it is that “immunes” or “protects” some and not others.  This kind of research illuminates new clinical and health service interventions.............To read more on the Director's Message, please visit the latest Annual Report 2006-2007, page 3.



The System-Linked Research Unit on Health and Social Service Utilization was launched in 1991 and funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to compare the effects and costs of innovative, intersectoral, comprehensive services with the usual sectoral, fragmented approaches of serving vulnerable populations. The Unit’s investigators were mandated to conduct research relevant to 16 health and social service agencies and provider agencies, in two regions of Ontario. The partner agencies helped to plan the relevant research agenda, interpret, disseminate and implement findings.


Who We Are

We are a group of university-based researchers and community partners dedicated to creating new solutions for problems that challenge health and social services.

The research team is based at McMaster University, in Hamilton, Ontario. The communities are in the regional municipalities of Hamilton and Halton.

The community partners include the regional health and social service departments, social planning councils, district health councils, home care nursing services, health service organizations, and others.

The community partners help plan the research agenda, disseminate findings and implement key learnings.