Population-Based Research

Population-based research explores questions regarding child, family and community development, and longitudinal and cohort effects of universal, targeted and clinical interventions. Research results provide new knowledge to support policy development and program planning and to determine the most effective cross-sectoral mechanisms for achieving the best possible outcomes for Manitoba’s children, families and communities.

Manitoba supports the following population-based research:

Child Health Research
Manitoba works with university-based researchers on a number of research projects. These partnerships encourage research that is relevant to policy and practice.


Centre for Gender, Mental Health and Violence Across the Lifespan  (funded by the Canadian Institute of Health Research)
Manitoba Participates in this Centre which has 3 objectives (1) to increase understanding and knowledge about the links between mental health impairment, gender and exposure to child maltreatment and intimate partner violence, both in Canada and internationally (2) to develop interventions to prevent or reduce child maltreatment, intimate partner violence and subsequent mental health problems; and (3) to develop and promote an integrated research and knowledge translation (KT) agenda.

Predictors and Outcomes of Prenatal Care: Vital Information for Future Service Planning (funded by the Canadian Institute of Health Research)
Prenatal care (PNC) can improve prenatal health and pregnancy outcomes.  Patterns of PNC and how these patterns differ by socioeconomic status and geographic region will be examined as well as determining factors influencing PNC and how PNC is associated with a variety of outcomes.

The Interplay Between Maternal Distress and Addiction on the Development of Childhood Asthma and Allergic Disease (funded by the Norlien foundation)
The research is examining the link between maternal distress and addictions during infancy and asthma and allergic diseases. The study will be conducted by linking health care records from Manitoba’s provincial databases with data from the FamiliesFirst Screening Form.  


EDI Parent Survey
The Early Development Instrument (EDI) is a tool that provides information on Manitoba’s children as they enter school.  While the EDI provides information on children’s readiness for school, it does not provide information on children’s early years.  We know that a child’s experiences in their first years of life can influence their readiness for school. 

The EDI Parent Survey gathers information about the many factors that influence child development, such as demographics, neighbourhood characteristics, socio-economics (education and income), children’s activities, parenting and children’s behaviour.  By linking the EDI Parent Survey with the EDI readiness for school measures, we can find out which children and groups of children are ‘very ready’ or ‘not ready’ for school.  We can also find characteristics of the resilient children who are ‘ready for school’ despite the obstacles they face.  The EDI Parent Survey was collected province-wide on a randomized selection of 1,000 parents in Spring 2006.

Results from the EDI Parent Survey are available in the 2008/09 EDI community reports

Families First Screen
Manitoba in partnership with the Regional Health Authorities, ask all families with newborns about how they are adjusting to their new baby. Public health nurses ask families about supports and challenges such as biological, social and demographic factors using the Families First Screening Form. These include congenital anomalies, birth weight, multiple births, alcohol use and smoking during pregnancy, mother’s age, education, marital status, mental health, and family social isolation and relationship distress.

The purpose of the universal screening is two-fold. The Families First Screening Form is used by public health staff to direct families to appropriate resources such as child care, parenting programs, financial assistance, or home visiting programs. The information is also used for tracking risk factors for policy development and planning services.


The Impact of Inequalities Among Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal Children on their Readiness for School
This research looks at the relationship between inequalities and Aboriginal children in Kindergarten.  Results indicate that Aboriginal children who are not ready for school most often live in vulnerable environments, such as being in lower income families and having a parent with long term illness.  Strategies that will help Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children living in vulnerable environments could include:

  • Encouraging and teaching positive parenting practices;
  • Making organized physical activities available to all children; and
  • Increasing high school graduation rates

Learn more about this research (PDF)


Manitoba Birth Cohort Study
Understanding the influences of non-parental care on early childhood development is an important public policy concern across the country. The 1997 Manitoba Birth Cohort Study was done by South Eastman Regional Health Authority, the Division scolaire franco-manitobaine (DSFM), the Féderation provinciale des comités de parents(FPCP), Government of Manitoba and Human Resources and Development Canada (HRDC) to gain a greater understanding of non-parental care in Manitoba. The study focused specifically on non-parental care arrangements change over time and how the relationship between non-parental care, child and family factors and children’s development. Read the Manitoba Birth Cohort Study report (PDF).


Manitoba Centre for Health Policy (MCHP): Annual Deliverable for Healthy Child Committee of Cabinet
Since 2005, Manitoba Health has permanently allocated one of its annual research deliverables from the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy (MCHP) to the Healthy Child Committee of Cabinet (HCCC). Each year, HCCC identifies a priority topic of interest regarding children’s health. To date, these MCHP deliverables have included an extended evaluation of the Families First Program (formerly BabyFirst), an extended evaluation of the Healthy Baby program, an update of the Manitoba Child Health Atlas, and extended analyses of the Early Development Instrument (EDI), and perinatal services and outcomes. Read more about these deliverables.

Next Steps in the Provincial Evaluation of the BabyFirst Program: Measuring Early Impacts on Outcomes Associated with Child Maltreatment
Brownell M, Santos R, Kozyrskyj A, Roos N, Au W, Dik N, Chartier M, Girard D, Ekuma O, Sirski M, Tonn N, Schultz J
This study evaluates the provincial BabyFirst program (now Families First) and its impact on child maltreatment.

2010 - Evaluation of the Healthy Baby Program
Brownell M, Chartier M, Au W, Schultz J

This report evaluates the impact the program had on prenatal and perinatal health, as well as health outcomes of children in the program up to their first birthday.

2008 - Manitoba Child Health Atlas Update
Brownell M, De Coster C, Penfold R, Derksen S, Au W, Schultz J, Dahl M

2001 - Assessing the Health of Children in Manitoba: A Population-Based Study
Brownell M, Martens PJ, Kozyrskyj A, Fergusson P, Lerfald J, Mayer T, Derksen S, Friesen D
Produced in consultation with other groups doing research in this area, MCHP's child-health encyclopaedia gives numerous details on the health of Manitoba's 325,000 children. Included are: physical health status, patterns of health care use, and social determinants of health, such as socioeconomic status and educational achievement.


Towards Flourishing: Improving Mental Health Among New Mothers in the Manitoba Families First Home Visiting Program: 2009 – 2015
The Towards Flourishing project is a collaboration with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA), and the University of Manitoba.

The overarching aim of this project is to improve mental health among women in the Families First program. The province-wide Families First program provides home visiting services to families with children from prenatal to five years of age who want parenting support. Public health nurses and home visitors have recognized the need for a mental health strategy for these families. The project is funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada in two phases.

The first phase, from January 2009 – January 2010 involved the development of a comprehensive strategy to improve the mental well-being and prevent mental health problems for women in the program. This included piloting parts of the strategy and evaluating them through qualitative and quantitative methods.

The second phase, from February 2010 to February 2015 involves ongoing development of the strategy as well as implementation and rigorous evaluation through a step-wedge randomized controlled trial.