Saskatchewan Population Health and Evaluation Research Unit (SPHERU)

Established in 1999, SPHERU's mission is to inform health, social and economic policy, influence the education of health professionals, and provide a resource for public debate. SPHERU is a multi-disciplinary partnership between the University of Regina, the University of Saskatchewan, the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation, Saskatchewan Health, and the Saskatchewan Association of Health Organizations. SPHERU maintains offices at both provincial universities and in Prince Albert, and pursues funding from provincial and federal agencies.

Because the most important determinants of population health are embedded in economic, social, and political structures of inequality, research is conducted under two broad categories. The first deals primarily with health-determining conditions (e.g., socio-economic status, the environment, social roles, and early childhood development) and the relationships between these. The second concerns evaluation studies of interventions to make social and environmental conditions more health-promoting and more equitable in their allocation of health risks and opportunities across different population groups.

Research partners include community groups, policy workers, and researchers from other universities across Canada and internationally. SPHERU's unique contribution to Saskatchewan lies in its focusing not on health policy or health care, but in its insistence that all public policy be designed in a manner that reduces the inequalities that lead to ill health.

Ann M. Bishop