Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Public Health

The Tobacco Control Community of Tomorrow: A Vision for Training

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Public Health

The Tobacco Control Community of Tomorrow: A Vision for Training

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Objective: Current and emerging public health challenges require a new approach to research training. The purpose of the CIHR-Strategic Training Program in Tobacco Research (STPTR) is to equip the next generation of scientific leaders with the knowledge, skills and experiences that will enhance their ability to conduct tobacco research that will have a positive impact on the health of the population.

Participants: Graduate students or post-doctoral fellows from any university in Canada who are working with a STPTR Mentor in the broad area of tobacco control.

Setting: Mentors at three universities: University of British Columbia, University of Toronto, and University of Waterloo.

Intervention: The STPTR currently has four elements: a video course linking STPTR trainees and mentors across universities; an annual meeting; stipend awards that free CIHR STPTR fellows to concentrate on research; and personal, cross-disciplinary research mentoring.

Outcomes: Feedback solicited from current and past trainees at the three-year point of the program suggests that there are four key value-added benefits associated with being a trainee in the STPTR: transdisciplinary connectedness, community building, capacity building, and exposure.

Conclusion: Feedback from trainees at different stages in their training experience, different academic institutions, and different academic disciplines will inform the ongoing framing of the STPTR and may inform future training programs in other disciplines of chronic disease prevention, health promotion, and the emerging science of population-level intervention.

MeSH terms: Tobacco; education; mentors; behavioral disciplines and activities; prevention and control

Current and emerging public health challenges require that future researchers be able to think and work beyond the bounds of their home discipline and in collaboration with practitioners and policy-makers. For instance, provincial, national and international cancer control agencies recognize that future planning and intervention activities will require coordination to apply research to practice and policy decisions, a focus on populations and public health with links between fundamental and applied research, and interdisciplinary integration of the biological, behavioural, social, and other population sciences.1 In order to develop the next generation of researchers with the skills required to navigate this type of research and practice landscape, it is critical to provide a transdisciplinary and collaborative training environment.2 In response, the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) has developed the Strategic Training Initiative in Health Research (STIHR).

The purpose of the CIHR STIHR program is to build capacity within Canada's health research community through the training and development of researchers.3 The program intends to encourage transdisciplinary, integrative health research - in part through the training of the next generation of researchers - and to increase the capacity of Canada's health research enterprise to address important research questions in the four diemes of health research: biomedical; clinical; respecting health systems and services; and the health of populations, the societal and cultural dimensions of health and environmental influences on health. Each funded training program consists of a group of mentors/educators who work collaboratively to offer a research training program of defined format and content to a group of trainees.

Since the inception of the CIHR STIHR program in 2002, there have been 86 training programs funded (51 in 2002, 35 in 2003). One of the programs funded in 2002, the CIHR-Strategic Training Program in Tobacco Research (STPTR),4 provides an excellent example of a transdisciplinary and collaborative training environment The CIHR STPTR has a distinctive focus on transdisciplinary training provided by outstanding mentors who span a broad range of academic disciplines and departments from universities and research centres across Canada. …

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