Our research takes an ecological, social determinants and sex/gender-based perspective to understanding and evaluating sexual health and HIV/AIDS and broader health inequities among marginalized populations.
GSHI has been engaging in community-based research since 2004, and increasingly much of our work takes a population health intervention research and geography/ place-based perspective.
Our core themes include:
Social Inequities Research
Moving beyond the limitations of research that considers individuals as ‘at-risk’, the GSHI research takes an ecological perspective that examines how the broader risk environment shapes interpersonal and gendered negotiation of health outcomes and access to care. This work includes research lines of inquiry on intersecting structural (e.g. punitive laws, discriminatory and racialized policies), physical (e.g. work environment, housing, health service access) and social environments (e.g. gender and social norms, stigma) that shape health outcomes and access to care for marginalized populations. This ecological approach aims to inform improved policies and programs that address health inequities both at individual and population levels.
Population Health Intervention Research
Our population health intervention research is focused on building scientific capacity to evaluate policy implementation and directly inform policy-making that impacts sexual health, HIV/STIs and other health outcomes for both individuals and communities. This work offers unique opportunities to evaluate policies within the context of naturally unfolding experiments, in partnership with affected communities, legal/policy experts, the broader public, policy makers, and scientific community. This research includes evaluating intended and unintended consequences of policies both within and outside the health sector. GSHI has in place a range of long-term projects that offer a unique platform for ongoing policy evaluation research.
GSHI has a long history of community-based research and partnerships with knowledge users, including the affected community, community agencies, legal and human rights experts, and policy makers. You can find summaries of methods and development of some of our key community partnerships in several of our publications. Beyond our community partnerships and community advisory boards, the affected community is frequently represented as researchers, investigators and knowledge users with GSHI projects, and many of our publications are co-authored with the affected community. GSHI researchers have also co-presented many of the findings through community and public policy forums, as well as joint media dissemination.
Sex and Gender-Based Research
Sexual health, HIV/AIDS, and broader health inequities continue to be shaped by sex (e.g. biological, male/female reproductive health) and gender, socio-cultural construction that encompasses macro-gender inequities (e.g. laws, police, distribution of resources), masculinities and femininities ascribed to women, men and sexual minorities (LGBT2S, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, two-spirited individuals). GSHI research examines the complex interplay of gender in shaping HIV prevention, treatment and access to care, both macro and micro-level factors, and their downward stream effects in shaping power, agency and access to resources, and negotiation of health risks, actions and decisions.
Geography/ Place-Based Research
GSHI has been conducting geography and place-based research since 2005. This research includes social mapping, geographic information systems (GIS), and complex spatial research to understanding how geography and place (i.e. the physical and social dimensions of environment) shape sexual health and HIV/AIDS access and outcomes. To date, this work funded by CIHR and NIH has included mapping socio-spatial relations of health risks and outcomes among individual and communities, together with external neighbourhood environment (e.g. land use, census and policy data) to examine how health inequities of marginalized populations are embedded within geography and place. This research points to the need for policies and programs that address the factors shaping ‘vulnerable places’ (rather than ‘vulnerable persons’) in population and public health interventions.