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Dr. Richard Birtwhistle and Dr. France Légaré named to 2015 Top 20 Pioneers of Family Medicine Research

Each year the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) recognizes individuals for their contributions to advancing health care in Canada and around the world. 2015 marks the 20th annual list.

Rick Birtwhistle, a CFN Board member, is being recognized for his work with the Canadian Primary Care Sentinel Surveillance Network (CPCSSN), where he is the principal investigator and founding chair. CPCSSN is a primary care research initiative – the first pan-Canadian multi-disease electronic medical record surveillance system. The offices of participating family physicians collect health information from electronic medical records, creating a central repository of de-identified patient data on common chronic diseases and neurologic conditions. Before CPCSSN, information about the care of chronic disease patients across Canada had mostly remained untapped. CPCSSN results in better health information available to health care providers and researchers, ideally leading to improved chronic disease care in Canada.

France Légaré , a CFN network investigator, is being recognized for her research with decision aids and how they can be used in practice. She sits on the CFN Scientific Review Committee, and is the Project Leader and a Principal Investigator for a CFN-funded Core Research Grant, Improving the decision process about location of care with the frail elderly and their caregivers. Dr. Légaré’s project is testing a training program that teaches doctors and interprofessional teams how to share evidence-based information and decision making with their frail elderly patients, in 16 home care teams attached to community health centres across the province of Quebec. Home care is a rapidly growing sector and this study will lay the foundations of a national strategy to ensure that no one has to make this difficult decision alone.

“While there are many worthy candidates for this honour, 20 researchers have been selected who meet the criteria of what it means to be a pioneer within their respective fields of work,” said CFPC president, Garey Mazowita. “These pioneers have demonstrated the value of research that is informed by doctor-patient relationships, continuity of care, community and population connections, and commitment to teaching - the very attributes that family doctors bring to Canadians on a daily basis."

In addition to his work with CPCSSN and on the CFN Board, Rickis also Director of the Centre for Studies in Primary Care and a Professor in the Department of Family Medicine and the Department of Community Health and Epidemiology, all at Queen’s University. He is also the Vice Chair of the newly reconstituted Canadian Task Force in Primary Healthcare which is producing evidence based guidelines for primary care practitioners. 

In addition to her efforts with CFN, France practices family medicine, is a Professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Emergency Medicine at Université Laval and a clinical investigator at the CHUQ Research Centre. She holds a Canada Research Chair in the Implementation of Shared Decision Making in Primary Care, and is also the Canadian Cochrane Network Site representative at Université Laval and CHUQ Research Centre.

Congratulations, Rick and France!