Clinical Epidemiology Program


The Clinical Epidemiology Program is focused on improving health through research involving patients and the health care system. Under the leadership of Dr. Dean Fergusson, more than 95 scientists and several hundred clinical investigators and staff are working to answer questions such as:

  • Which medical treatments work best for which patients?
  • How can we make better use of medical resources without compromising care?
  • What is the best way to provide information to patients and their families to help them make personalized decisions about their care?
  • How can we design clinical studies to provide the maximum amount of useful information?
  • How can we translate the knowledge gained from research studies into action by front line health workers?

Research efforts are organized into the seven main themes:

Circulatory and Respiratory Health
This theme includes the Thrombosis Research Group, whose members have developed a number of well-used diagnostic algorithms to improve the detection of dangerous blood clots. It also includes the Respirology and Transfusion Research groups, with studies focusing on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, cystic fibrosis, red blood cell storage and approaches for reducing blood transfusion.

Emergency Medicine and Critical Care
Researchers in this theme have developed clinical decision rules that are used around the world to streamline diagnosis (i.e. the Ottawa Ankle Rules). Other influential studies are focused on resuscitation, transfusion, septic shock, and advanced paramedic life support procedures. For more information, see Emergency Medicine Research Group and Critical Care Research Group.

Maternal and Fetal Health
This theme is embodied by the Obstetrics, Maternal and Newborn Investigations Unit. Their flagship Ottawa Birth Cohort study is revealing how factors present in the earliest stages of life (including in the womb) contribute to health and disease later on. Other areas of interest include complications of twin pregnancies, cesarean births, thrombophilia and antidepressants and other drugs.

Knowledge Synthesis
This theme engages exclusively in knowledge synthesis and related methods research. The Knowledge Synthesis (KS) Group is committed to developing high quality knowledge syntheses such as systematic reviews; meta-analyses; network meta-analyses; scoping and rapid reviews; overviews of reviews; and health technology assessments. The KS Group has garnered international recognition having conducted research for and training to local, provincial, national and international stakeholders.

Knowledge Translation/Implementation Research
Researchers in this theme are leading the world in the development of tools to help patients make complex, personalized health care decision (called patient decision aids). They are also very active in the development of systematic reviews and other tools to identify opportunities to improve safety and quality of care.

Health Research Methods
The flagship initiative of this theme is the Ottawa Methods Centre, which strives to enhance and enable world-class clinical research at The Ottawa Hospital and OHRI. The Methods Centre provides advice and assistance on study design, database development, statistical analysis and more.

Researchers in this theme are helping patients live more independently through applied research which focusses on innovative care options and improving evidence-based practice. Some of the most important recent projects have included COPD Outreach, the national CanDrive Initiative and treatment Guidelines for Mild Traumatic Brain Injury.