In Canada, the dramatic and increasing number of overdoses and deaths related to the use of opioids is a national public health crisis. The Government of Canada is committed to tackling this crisis and has emphasized the need for a strong evidence base through the Canadian Drugs and Substances Strategy (CDSS), and the Joint Statement of Action to Address the Opioid Crisis. This funding opportunity will support expedited knowledge synthesis grants to rapidly inform policies on opioids related to one or more pillars of CDSS (i.e. prevention, treatment, harm reduction and enforcement).
Knowledge syntheses are the cornerstone of knowledge translation. They interpret vast libraries of scientific literature into knowledge that is reliable, relevant and readable for knowledge users. Syntheses are comprehensive and apply scientific methods to literature analysis which minimizes the risk of bias and error that may accompany single studies, so health policy and practice decisions are less likely to be based on insufficient or premature evidence. Syntheses are also a means to integrate established literature with other forms of knowledge, to map the state of current knowledge on a topic, revealing to knowledge users where there is or is not strong evidence to inform their decisions, or to guide researchers to new areas of research.
All forms of knowledge synthesis are eligible, including systematic reviews, realist syntheses, narrative syntheses, meta-analyses, meta-syntheses and meta-ethnography. Syntheses that are intended to lead to the development of practice guidelines are also eligible. Syntheses in this funding opportunity may synthesize results from qualitative, quantitative or multi-method research. The types of knowledge than can be synthesized are broad and can include empirical as well as theoretical knowledge. All syntheses in this funding opportunity must assemble, analyze and summarize knowledge.
Scoping reviews are exploratory projects that systematically map the literature available on a topic, identifying the key concepts, theories, sources of evidence, and gaps in the research. They are often preliminary to full syntheses, undertaken when feasibility is a concern -- either because the potentially relevant literature is thought to be especially vast and diverse (varying by method, theoretical orientation or discipline) or there is suspicion that not enough literature exists. These entail the systematic selection, collection and summarization of existing knowledge in a broad thematic area for the purpose of identifying where there is sufficient evidence to conduct a full synthesis or where insufficient evidence exists and further primary research is necessary.
A Guide to Knowledge Synthesis, Knowledge Synthesis – Tips for Success and Knowledge User Engagement are available on CIHR's website. Standard protocols, handbooks, checklists and guidelines exist to guide the conduct and reporting of some syntheses. Applicants are encouraged to make use of and cite these resources where appropriate.
This funding opportunity will support reviews and syntheses to address the most urgent elements of the opioid crisis, including reducing opioid-related mortality rates, relevant to one or more of the four pillars of the Canadian drugs and substances strategy (CDSS).
The CDSS is a comprehensive, collaborative, compassionate and evidence-based approach to drug policy. The four pillars of the strategy are:
- Prevention: Preventing problematic drug and substance use.
- Treatment: Supporting innovative approaches to treatment and rehabilitation.
- Harm reduction: Supporting measures that reduce the negative consequences of drug and substance use.
- Enforcement: Addressing illicit drug production, supply and distribution.
Additionally, applicants are encouraged to critically assess the state of knowledge on biological and social determinants of opioid use (e.g., sex, gender, age, housing status and income), and/or on sub-populations (e.g., those with severe opioid use disorder, youth, Indigenous peoples, rural, inner-urban, pregnant women and correctional populations) in relation to the CDSS.