Health Analysis Division: Presentation of current health research activities at Statistics Canada

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Release date: March 7, 2018

Health Research at Statistics Canada

The following presentation is a summary of current health research activities at Statistics Canada including: major research themes; data integration; methods and tools; and dissemination and outreach. This presentation forms the basis for ongoing consultations with a broad range of health stakeholders, including federal ministries, national health organizations, and the academic community.

Health research at Statistics Canada has six broad objectives:

Health Analysis Division (HAD) is one of four divisions within the Analytical Studies Branch of Statistics Canada focussed on in-depth statistical analysis to provide new insights on Canadian society and the economy.

Research Themes

Maternal, child, and youth health

On-going surveillance of maternal health and perinatal outcomes are important to understand and contribute to the improvement of health for pregnant women, mothers and infants. Childhood is an important stage of life where early influences can have a large impact, one that lasts throughout the life course. Poor health at this stage in life can lead to substantial impacts on the health care system as well as educational, social, and employment opportunities over the life course.

Perinatal outcome research projects:

Children's health research projects:


The number of seniors is expected to double by 2031, and an understanding of the current and future care needs of seniors is critical. The aging population is an area of focus for several programs at Statistics Canada including demography, economic and social statistics program. Using new linked data, HAD continues to focus on new ways to understand seniors' health, outcomes and need for services such a long-term care and homecare.

Research Projects:

Immigrant health

Understanding immigrant health outcomes is key, particularly the differences in outcomes among immigrant by either country of birth and/or immigrant category (i.e. refugees, economic class). Working in partnership with Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and others, new linked data have been developed to further enhance our capacity to better understand immigrant health.

Research Projects:

Health of Aboriginal Peoples

Through partnerships developed over several years, HAD has established a program of research focussed on Aboriginal child and adult health including outcomes such as education and mental health and the association with influential social determinants found in communities, schools, and the family environment.

Research Projects:

Behaviours, chronic diseases, mental health and cancer


Health behaviours are often characteristics that can be modified in the population. Many chronic conditions are associated with a set of key factors including physical activity, nutrition, obesity, smoking, sleep. New this year will be a greater focus on cannabis use.

Research projects:

Chronic disease

Chronic diseases are the leading cause of morbidity in developed countries and drive most of the healthcare use. HAD research focusses on a range of chronic conditions to provide information on disease prevalence, incidence and better understand the role of the social determinants of health outcomes.

Research projects:

Mental health

Mental health and illness are a priority focus for both population health and health services. Understanding the patterns of mental health and related health care use among the population are important.


Cancer is a leading cause of death in Canada. Understanding the impact of cancer screening on future cancer incidence and treatment patterns is important. Working with partners such as the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer (CPAC), new linked data and microsimulation tools have been developed to better understand cancer patterns.

Research projects:

Health and the Environment

The physical environment is a well-established determinant of health. Spatial data, also known as geospatial data or geographic information, is information that identifies the geographic location of features and boundaries on Earth and can be used to derive physical environmental variables. Working with partners including Health Canada and the Canadian Urban Environmental Health Research Consortium (CANUE), these measures can be combined with existing survey and administrative health data to assess impacts on health.

Research projects:

Healthcare use, costs and impacts

While information on healthcare use such as hospitals is readily available, taking a social determinants of health approach to better understand the pattern of use and highlight potential inequities.

Data Integration

Data Integration: Record Linkage

The linking of Statistics Canada health survey data with provincial administrative data creates a valuable and cost-effective dataset that can provide answers to important research questions that cannot be found in survey and administrative data alone, such as health conditions in subsectors of the Canadian population.

Data Integration: Big Data

Environmental data comes in many shapes and forms and covers a wide spectrum of exposures. This includes air quality (e.g. particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, ozone), built environment (e.g. green space, neighbourhood factors, noise), social environment (e.g. neighbourhood deprivation), and drinking water quality. These data are integrated with health datasets in order to examining the impact of environment on human health and behaviours.

Data Integration: Microsimulation

HAD, in partnership with external collaborators, leads the development of several microsimulation models designed to project the health and disease states of the Canadian population and to evaluate policy responses.

Development projects:

Methods and Tools

HAD is also involved in the development of methods and tools to assist researchers working with health data.



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