Year in Review: the long run for positive change
The Research and Evaluation Department has had a busy year moving existing projects forward as well as initiating some new and exciting work with community partners. PAN remains committed to research and evaluation work that is responsive to the needs of our members; and generating information and data that community-based partners can use to support their work.
Making it Work
The Making it Work community-based research study is co-led by PAN and Sherri Pooyak at the Aboriginal HIV/AIDS Community-Based Research Collaborative Centre (AHA Centre). Making it Work explores how people with lived and living experiences of HIV, hepatitis C, mental health and/or drug use experience services, and if they have better outcomes when they access organizations that link case management and community development services. The goals of the study include showing not only if a program works, but who it works for, under what circumstances, and why. To answer these questions, the study team is looking to realist evaluation, an evaluation approach that attempts to explain complex programs.
Over the last year the Making it Work study continued to use community-based research and decolonizing methodology to explore the work of five case study sites across the province; Positive Living North in Prince George and Smithers; PHS Community Services in Vancouver and Victoria and Central Interior Native Health Society in Prince George. With the active engagement of Peer Research Associates (PRAs), the Making it Work team held four Community Conversations (focus groups) last fall to delve deeper into the study’s research questions. We were able to present some preliminary findings from this phase of the data collection in a poster at the Canadian Association of HIV Research (CAHR) conference.
With the coordination and guidance of the PAN Evaluation department, the Making it Work team spent much of the year preparing for our final round of data collection. With a grounding in realist evaluation, the team developed a survey that will be implemented this fall in our four case study site communities. We will use all of the data from this study to develop useful knowledge mobilization tools that will help our community partners share the results.
We would like to thank all of the study team partners including our team of Peer Research Associates for their commitment to this work during challenging times, including two public health pandemics and many operational and community challenges. Together, we hope this study will make positive change.
PAN’s stigma-related work had another busy year. For both of our active stigma studies, the BC People Living with HIV Stigma Index project, and our qualitative study, People with Lived Experiences’ Strengths in the Face of Stigma, we are busy working on knowledge mobilization pieces including data parties and preparing upcoming publications. We were excited to be able to share early findings from the qualitative interviews through a poster at the at the Canadian Association of HIV Research (CAHR) conference.
In partnership, the Research and Evaluation team and the Capacity Building and Leadership team at PAN are excited to be implementing the Organizational Stigma Assessment Cycle project, with funding from the Vancouver Foundation. The Organization Stigma Assessment Cycle Project is a response to community calls to action for stigma advocacy in British Columbia. The goal of this three-year project is to develop, test and evaluate a learning-based assessment cycle that will support organizations to learn where their programs and services may inadvertently be contributing to stigma and discrimination and identify where changes could be made. The project will support organizations to improve practices and policies that result in stigma and discrimination experienced by people who access services, including those with lived and living experience of HIV and/or hepatitis C, people who use drugs, and people living with mental health, or substance use issues.
The PAN team is also looking forward to the expansion of the Personal Experiences of Stigma Survey. The expansion includes a partnership with, and funding from, the Community Action Initiative. We are hoping to align different work on stigma in the community to find common ways to talk and learn about intersectional stigma across communities and populations. While we actively seek new research funding for this project, we have begun conversations with researchers, decision-makers, and other key community members to explore ways to increase implementation of this tool.
A big thank you to all of people who have supported PAN’s stigma work over the past year including the people who contributed through the BC Stigma Study Team, the Personal Experiences of Stigma Working Group, and the Organization Stigma Assessment Cycle Advisory Committee!
Small Urban, Rural and Remote Harm Reduction Project
This year PAN began work on an important project focused on harm reduction in small urban, rural and remote (SURR) communities in BC. The SURR Harm Reduction project team is made up of harm reduction workers that include people with lived and living experience of drug use and allies. We were successful in receiving funding from the Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR) and the Vancouver Foundation in early 2022. We look forward to working with people from small communities across BC to highlight the innovation happening in harm reduction in our province, identify research priorities, and take collective action towards solutions to the drug poisoning crisis.
Supporting expansion of innovative testing models in BC
We’ve been doing exciting work with new and innovative testing projects in BC. We have supported engagement with BC community-based and health authority partners on REACH Nexus’ I’m Ready HIV self-testing research program and look forward to supporting REACH’s Our Health Box, a ‘smart’, interactive dispensing machine that provides low barrier access to self-testing kits for HIV and COVID-19, plus essential harm reduction and sexual health supplies.
We are also pleased to be able to support Dr. Mark Gilbert’s innovative testing work he is doing through a recently awarded Applied Public Health Chair, focused on improving the equity, appropriateness, and sustainability of STBBI testing systems in BC, and also through the research work he is leading on the GetCheckedOnline STBBI testing .
Sharing Space – Community of Practice
In 2022 PAN was excited to host and co-facilitate the Sharing Space: Indigenous Research in the Time of COVID Community of Practice, in partnership with the AHA Centre. In March 2022 we welcomed Harlan Pruden to present on “Wellness in Two-Spirit Communities across Turtle Island: A Two (Spirit) – Eyed seeing approach to a gender-inclusive community-based Two-Spirit research network.” We co-created a space for members of our research communities to come together to learn from and support one another as we struggle with this new reality within a pandemic. This opportunity was open to anyone involved in research so we could brainstorm together or simply build a supportive environment at a time of constant change and uncertainty.
Fee-for-Service Evaluation Work
PAN has been fortunate to be able to continue to support a number of important projects through our fee-for-service evaluation consultancy work. Over the last reporting period PAN had the pleasure of providing evaluation supports and services to the following groups: 1) ANKORS: in support of its SUAP-funded harm reduction work; 2) Vancouver Sex Work Community Alliance; 3) the National PLDI Community Alliance; and the 4) Families in TRANSition Project at Central Toronto Youth Services.
Building a culture of continuous learning at PAN – Members’ and Allies’ Survey
In this past year, we were excited to share with you a report summarizing findings from four Members’ and Allies’ surveys conducted in 2015-2018. This report includes a summary of the feedback we received over these years and our actions to adapt, change and improve PAN’s services and programs based on this feedback. Since we started conducting this survey, the findings have helped us learn how we are meeting the needs of our members and communities. We believe that this is such an important engagement tool that when we updated our by-laws in 2018 it became a mandatory, annual requirement for PAN membership.
Thank you to everyone who has participated in these annual surveys. We are grateful for your continued support and participation. The time and energy you invest in completing the survey provides us with valuable feedback, guiding changes and improvement for our work.
As always, we want to thank the Peer Research Associates (PRAs) and people with lived and living experiences for their contributions as leaders, researchers, evaluators, participants, and knowledge translators. It is through their engagement that the work the Research and Evaluation Department does really find its legs to keep running. We also want to thank our academic and health authority partners in leadership roles on our studies, with particular thank yous to Dr. Cathy Worthington who lends her community-based research expertise to many of our CBR projects, Sherri Pooyak who co-leads the Making it Work Research Project, Sophie Bannar-Martin who leads the BC People Living with HIV Stigma Index Study and Anita David who has supported PAN’s Research and Evaluation work in many valuable ways. And to all of the members, participants and supporters of our research and evaluation teams, thank you for your continued dedication to all of the projects and studies we are focused on. Thank you to our hard-working and creative staff team who have moved the department’s work forward over the last year – Joanna Mendell, Jennifer Demchuk, Paul Kerber, Anna Mertens, Edi Young, Alicia Koback, Hermione Jefferis and those no longer at PAN, Alfiya Battalova, Leanne Zubowski, Madeline Gallard, Furqan Waleed, and Aislynn Austin. We are grateful for the funding and support from REACH Nexus, the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR), the AHA Centre, the Vancouver Foundation, Provincial Health Services Authority, the University of Victoria, and Island Health, and our fee-for-service contracts which have made this work possible.
For more information, contact Janice Duddy, Director of Research and Evaluation: [email protected]