Provincial Collaborative Network (PCN)

The CIRN Provincial Collaborative Network (PCN) brings together leading researchers from multiple provincial governments, public health agencies, and research institutes to conduct a wide range of public health-relevant research and evaluation.

The PCN studies characteristically do not involve collecting information directly from people or clinical studies, but instead, typically bring together a range of existing types of large-scale data to answer important questions very efficiently and effectively. These studies increase the evidence base to inform immunization strategies and programs in Canada and beyond.

In 2017-18, PCN completed several studies, resulting in four presentations and three papers published in leading scientific journals. The publications included studies that catalogued methods used to assess vaccine coverage in Canada, validated the use of diagnostic codes to identify cases of pertussis (whooping cough), and outlined a protocol to examine immunological protection from pertussis transmission in household contacts.

The five PCN studies that are currently in progress involve multiple provinces, vaccines, and research methodologies. One nearly completed study is examining vaccine safety and coverage in children with epilepsy using health administrative databases. Another study is assessing under-reporting and evaluating the effectiveness of pertussis vaccines in multiple provinces using a combination of laboratory, health administrative, and public health reportable disease surveillance databases. A pair of studies are using linked laboratory and health administrative data to examine some recent controversial aspects regarding the effectiveness of influenza vaccines, with one studying the impact of repeated immunization on influenza vaccine effectiveness in young children and another determining whether the effectiveness of influenza immunization wanes over the course of an influenza season. Finally, the ENGAGE-HPV study, which is focused on preventing human papillomavirus (HPV) for gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men in Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal, will combine methods from epidemiology, mathematical modeling, and health economics.

We have established strong partnerships between researchers and policy-makers. For example, a CIRN funded trainee built on these relationships is leading a study of how to strengthen the way that research influences immunization policy in order to maximize the impact of immunization programs in Canada. This study leveraged CIRN support, as well as the Canadian Institutes of Health Research [CIHR], Public Health Agency of Canada, Association of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Disease Canada, Canadian Association for Immunization Research and Evaluation, and Public Health Ontario.In 2018/19, PCN aims to complete most of its existing studies and will develop plans for new studies for year three of CIRN by seeking increased linkages of partner organizations, collaborating investigators, and databases. For example, PCN is closely connected with the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences in Ontario, which is partnering with similar organizations in several provinces to submit an application to CIHR for the Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research (SPOR) National Data Platform. The objective of this data platform is to create efficiencies for accessing data for multi-jurisdictional studies, which will be of great interest and benefit to PCN and other CIRN networks once ready.