Learning Resource on Transdisciplinary Research

Jill Allison

Prepared by Jill Allison (co-chair, CCGHR Capacity Building Committee)

The CCGHR Resource on Transdisciplinary Research (TD) has been created to provide some key information to researchers but more importantly, to start a conversation about the importance of a TD approach to the deeply complex problems in global health.  Often called “wicked problems” the kinds of challenges being explored by global health researchers are often hard to define, multi-faceted and deeply embedded in social contexts.  As a result, there is little agreement on the origins of a wicked problem, the necessary approaches to resolving (or indeed its capacity to be resolved!) and the necessary resources and actors who will participate in the work of resolving such problems.  TD approaches demand that we move beyond disciplines and perspectives to bring many voices to the table, including civil society and community members.

The TD approach aligns well with the Canadian Institute for Health Research’s focus on Patient Oriented Research.  The grants available under the Strategy for Patient Oriented Research (SPOR) program are aimed at increasing the opportunity for health research to address the main concerns of the people who will benefit from findings.  CIHR defines patient oriented research as:

A continuum of research that engages patients as partners focusses on patient-identified priorities and improves patient outcomes. This research, conducted by multidisciplinary teams in partnership with relevant stakeholders, aims to apply the knowledge generated to improve healthcare systems and practices.


CCGHR is well positioned to encourage and support the growth of research teams that take a TD approach in meeting the CIHR funding mandate.  The concept of engagement is at the heart of the TD approach and the resource will provide opportunities for people to explore ideas, get feedback and add to the references and case studies, ensuring that this is a lively and interactive resource for all members of CCGHR.  A product of an interdisciplinary team with a variety of experiences in research, from social sciences to OneHealth to clinical and lab bench approaches, the resource is also intended to build a network of advocates and help promote the importance of trans-disciplinary work among University administration and research funders.

The current version of this Learning Resource has been placed into the documents section of this UAC website. We would like to have a dialogue with your views about this resource. Please send your comments to Jill at:  jill.allison@med.mun.ca .  Thank you.