Research Underway

The purpose of this section is to serve notice of current Canadian research so that those wishing more information, or to collaborate, or to avoid duplicating on-going work can find out what is underway and not yet published.

Contact us with information on your current research for posting in this section.

Through the initiative and collaboration of Lee Bartel of MaHRC and Renee Lyons, Research Chair and Scientific Director of the Bridgepoint Collaboratory  for Research and Innovation, Bridgepoint Active Healthcare, Bev Foster, Director of the Room 217 Foundation, has been engaged to head a comprehensive music optimization project of newly opened and stunning Bridgepoint Hospital. Funded through the Bridgepoint Foundation, this assessment is assumed to be a first of its kind and is expected to generate a model for examining music care potential – how to optimize the beautiful physical environment and patient rehabilitative care through music.  It is proposed that music care delivery is comprised of informed and intentional musical implementation and music integration in a health care setting. Potential in ten domains of music care delivery will be examined:

  • Community Music: individuals or organizations that partner with the healthcare team to provide musical services or entertainment in the facility
  • Music Care Specialties: individuals that bring their musical training and/or experience in music care to a healthcare setting
  • Music Therapy:  a specific scope of music care practice that uses music and musical tools to address clinical goals and objectives within a therapeutic relationship
  • Music Programming: staff or volunteers within the facility who plan for and employ the use of music into recreational or therapeutic programs that are delivered to individuals or groups
  • Music Technology: the intentional use of technology and staff training to use technology to suit patients’ musical needs or staff’s treatment goals
  • Environmental Sound: intentionally setting ambient healing sounds in the facility
  • Music Medicine: the prescriptive use of music strategies in healthcare for medical-related outcomes
  • Staff, Volunteer and Family Music Wellness: attending to the wellness of facility staff and volunteers through music
  • Music Care Training: educating care providers, caregivers and other stakeholders (i.e. teachers) in the integration and implementation of music in care
  • Music Care Research: the use of systematic evidence for music and its use in healthcare

About the Bridgepoint Collaboratory for Research and Innovation:  Bridgepoint Active Healthcare and its Research Collaboratory focuses on individuals with complex, multiple health conditions. We know from research these people are often some of the highest users of healthcare services, and yet, we know little about the population and how health services can be re-engineered to be more effective.  The Collaboratory has 6 scientists, two postdocs, and several research affiliates and has completed over 15 research projects on complex chronic conditions.

About the Room 217 Foundation: The Room 217 Foundation is a not-for-profit corporation and registered Canadian charity dedicated to caring for the whole person with music by producing and delivering therapeutic music products, providing skills & training for integrating music into care and supporting innovative research in music and care.

About MaHRC:  The Music and Health Research Collaboratory, based at the Faculty of Music, University of Toronto, is a synergistic and collaborative set of researcher groups exploring connections of sound to the human experience of health. The focus of MaHRC is on music (sound) and health broadly defined by four overlapping and inter-related spheres: (1) Therapy and Medicine, (2) Body, Brain, Mind, (3) Society and Culture, and (4) Teaching, Learning and Performing. 

Photography credit to: Tom Arban Photography  

Arm morbidity – pain, range of motion limitations and lymphedema – is common among breast cancer survivors following surgery. It can have a devastating impact on various aspects on survivors’ lives (e.g., work, leisure, family). Early detection and treatment of arm morbidity by health professionals with relevant training and experience is more successful than late identification and intervention in minimizing symptoms and its effects on quality of life. Enhanced diagnostic and treatment protocols, in particular screening and referrals, are achievable by improving knowledge transfer to health care providers.

The need for innovative knowledge translation (KT) strategies in health research is well known. Ethnodrama is an innovative KT strategy that uses theatrical performances based on research findings to disseminate research results to a variety of audiences. It has been used by the Co-PI (Quinlan) in other studies, but has yet to be used to transfer findings regarding arm morbidity among breast cancer survivors.

Researchers at the University of Saskatchewan are conducting a qualitative study, which creates, presents, and explores the impact of arm morbidity ethnodrama performances. The study began in April 2010 with participant recruited, developmental stages and performances now completed. The project is guided by the following 3 objectives:

  • increase knowledge concerning the effects of arm morbidity on breast cancer survivors’ work, leisure, and relationships by using interactive ethnodrama to disseminate findings from our national, CBCRA/CIHR-funded arm morbidity study (PI, Thomas-MacLean).
  • explore the capacity of interactive ethnodrama performances to change attitudes and practices related to arm morbidity of breast cancer survivors and health care providers.
  • investigate interactive ethnodrama as a potential psychosocial intervention on breast cancer survivors’ work, leisure, and relationships by using interactive ethnodrama to disseminate findings from our national, CBCRA/CIHR-funded arm morbidity study (PI, Thomas-MacLean).

The proposed research is composed of three phases, corresponding with each of the three objectives. Phase I entails the development of ethnodramas that capture the experiences of breast cancer survivors dealing with pain, lymphedema, and restricted arm mobility, for a series of performances to audiences of survivors and health care providers. Phase II is ongoing and consists of an analysis of interviews with audience members of the ethnodrama performances and group discussion to evaluate their effectiveness via changes in attitudes and practices. Phase III will consist of an analysis of the empowering impact on the script-development workshop participants of their active involvement in the ethnodrama creation.

By using interactive ethnodrama as both a KT strategy and as a psycho-social intervention, our study 1) extends the application of ethnodrama as a KT strategy to the domain of arm morbidity, and 2) provides a solid foundation for the development of new forms of psychosocial interventions for breast cancer survivors

For more information, please visit the Breast Cancer Survivors Ethnodrama website, watch the videos on YouTube, or read the research summary posters below:


The Cognitive Health and Aging Research Lab ( in Montreal, led by researcher, Dr Louis Bherer, is running an innovative project in 2015, in Dance/Movement Therapy with older adults. As the fastest growing portion of the population, older adults face the constant challenge of physical and cognitive decline and physical activity has shown to delay this decline in the aging process. Funded by the Ministry of Health of Quebec and in collaboration with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal, « Danser pour mieux vieillir » investigates the effects of a 12-week, thrice weekly, aerobics program and dance/movement therapy program adapted to a sedentary elderly population. Dance/movement therapy is “the psychotherapeutic use of movement to further the emotional, cognitive, physical and social integration of the individual” ( and is used in groups of up to 10 individuals at time in our project. A professional in their respective fields leads each program and a complex battery of physical, cognitive, and general health and quality of life measures are used to evaluate levels of capability before and after each training program. This research projects aims to assess physical activity programs that could successfully increase physical activity participation among our rapidly aging population.

For more information please contact Coordinator, Alida Esmail (


This is a two year research project conducted with an arts-engaged group of LGBTQ elders in Vancouver BC, funded by SSHRC - the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. I am conducting the research as a postdoctoral fellow at Simon Fraser University in the department of Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies. Purpose: The object of the research is to examine how practices of art making can keep participants socially and cognitively connected and help them understand, articulate, and represent their individual and collective memories. Participants: 55-83 years old, they identify variously as gay, queer, trans and bisexual. Some experience significant physical, cognitive, and emotional challenges, including MS, depression, bipolar disorder, dementia, memory loss, and general physical frailty. Outcomes: I have found that making art in collaboration leads to greater insight into life experience, including the recovery and representation of counter normative memories. Members of the group feel empowered, more visible, and feel that they have greater agency.

Framework/Philosophy: My research falls under the broad category of Arts Based Educational Research. My arts practices are oriented by the beliefs in collaborative art making that challenges participants to be critical - since our culture is organized through structures of power, cultural activity involves examining and 'speaking back' to structures that have been oppressive.

Partners: QMUNITY, Britannia Services Centre, Vancouver Parks Board, City of Vancouver
Time: May 2013 – May 2015
Location: Vancouver
Resources Available: Several print anthologies are available at

Art Modalities: Drama/Theatre, Film/Video, Digital/Electronic, Writing


Principal Investigator: Claire Robson, Simon Fraser University

Department of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies
Email: | Web: | Phone: 604-222-4606

Sexuality is a central aspect of human life. Yet, despite a recent movement towards approaching medical care from a holistic perspective, sexuality has often been excluded from our understanding of the individual as a whole. This is especially true within palliative care settings where a patient's sexuality and sexual needs may seem less imperative than various complex physical health needs and symptom management. Discussing sex and sexuality at end of life also presents a variety of communication challenges for both the care provider and the patient.  Purpose: This proposed two-phase qualitative and arts-based study will examine patient, partner and health care provider perspectives on intimacy and sexuality at end of life. Several key questions will be addressed: 1. How do patients and patient’s partners understand their own bodies, intimacy and sexuality through their illness experience?  2. How are the sexual identities of patients affected by the dying process and palliative care environments?  3. How do these environments need to be modified in order to enable healthy, respectful, intimate spaces at end-of-life?  Participants: Patients residing at hospice based care settings within Vancouver and Victoria, BC.  Outcomes: This work will contribute to improved clinical practice through a deeper understanding of intimacy and sexuality at end-of-life. It will broaden the conversation around ‘healthy dying’, the ethics of research approaches to sensitive topics, and intimacy-informed hospice design. It will contribute to the development of patient-centered knowledge translation tools emphasizing an individual’s desire to live fully even as they are dying.

Time: January 2014 – August 2018
Location: Vancouver & Victoria
Art Modalities: Architecture, Storytelling/Poetry, Body Mapping

University of British Columbia, Faculty of Medicine
Principal Investigator: Ashley Heaslip, MPH, MD, PhD(c)
Email| Phone: 604-345-7580

Image source: Ashley Heaslip