Vivian Ramsden, a faculty member in the Department of Family Medicine

A pioneer of family medicine

From India to Sturgeon Lake, Vivian Ramsden has been on the leading edge of participatory health research.

By University Communications
A professor in the Department of Academic Family Medicine, Ramsden was recently recognized by the College of Family Physicians of Canada as one the Top 20 Pioneers in Family Medicine Research in Canada for her work in helping to improve healthcare in underserved communities.

"Participatory research is all about engagement," explained Ramsden. "It's about engaging the community in meaningful research. So they co-create it, (and) we actually answer their questions together with the results going back to the community, and programs evolve from the results of the questions they've systematically asked and answered.

"So it's sort of like the transformative action research model—everybody is engaged."

A registered nurse by training, Ramsden also holds a master's in community administration and wellness promotion and a PhD in interdisciplinary studies. Her work has mainly focused on underserved communities: inner-city, Indigenous communities in Saskatchewan, incarcerated women and rural communities in south India.

"It's about social responsibility and social accountability in that sense," she continued. "But it's also about all of the healthcare providers who don't necessarily have a voice—so it's how to actually gain a voice in new ways. It's non-linear, it's iterative, and it's engaging on their terms, not mine."

Ramsden explained that being a participatory researcher means spending at least 12 months in a community just being a part of the community—not asking questions, but sitting down for coffee and having chats before you even start to ask them if there's a question they're interested in systematically answering.

Read more on the College of Medicine website.