The Work Disability Prevention CIHR Strategic Training Program : the need for International Web-based Knowledge building development
Patrick Loisel, University of Toronto, Canada
Work disability impairs health and quality of life and is responsible of GDP losses of around 1.5 trillion US$ each year worldwide. Work disability is a complex issue involving many stakeholders and requiring a bio-psycho-social approach, taking into account personal, workplace, insurance and healthcare factors. The variety of needed skills requires a transdisciplinary approach. In 2002, the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) funded the first advanced Work Disability Prevention Training Program in the world, proposed by 25 Canadian teachers from 8 Universities, as part of a call for proposals entitled: Training Health researchers for the XXI Century. This training program was shaped as a three-year program, including summer sessions and optional activities, the whole leading to an advanced diploma in Work Disability Prevention from the Université de Sherbrooke, complementing the trainee’s PhD. Since the start of the program, 54 high caliber applicants from eleven countries have applied including PhD applicants (minimum entry level), post-doctoral fellows and young researchers. Training activities consist in seminars on the trainees’ research project, problem solving activities, stakeholders’ roundtables, formal lectures, workplace visits, morning forums, e-training preliminary to the sessions and optional activities between sessions as article writing, knowledge transfer activities or practicum in selected research centers. All activities are given or supervised by the program Mentors, triggering knowledge building. A survey of trainees and alumni after 5 years indicated that networking with mentors and trainees from diverse disciplines at an international level was the highest ranked value of the program. Conversely trainees indicated that they missed a web platform to stay in touch and continue exchanging ideas between the summer sessions, even if they were frequently e-mailing one another. As CIHR has funded the program for another six years in the University of Toronto with an expanded team of mentors, an international Community of Practice will be developed including more effective knowledge building tools, supporting repeated social interactions and program monitoring.