Health Care Professionals

Ministry Research Funding Opportunities

Applied Health Research Questions (AHRQs)

An AHRQ is a question posed by a health system policy maker or provider in order to obtain research evidence to inform planning, policy and program development that will benefit the entire Ontario health system.

Ministry-Funded Research Organizations/Programs/Projects

Ministry-funded research organizations/programs/projects field Applied Health Research Questions from the broader health care system. For AHRQ contacts see the funded research organizations/programs/projects.

If questions cannot be answered by the ministry-funded organizations/programs/projects listed below, the Research Planning and Management Unit may be able to provide assistance in identifying other research providers. Please contact the Research Planning and Management Unit at for further information.

AHRQ Reporting Forms

The AHRQ Guidelines provide information for both Research Providers and Knowledge Users. If you require any of the AHRQ reporting forms, please contact us.

Research Provider Templates

  • AHRQ Quarterly Workplan Report
  • AHRQ Summary of Findings Form
  • Knowledge User AHRQ Request Form


Applied Health Research Question (AHRQ) Guidelines


The Research, Analysis and Evaluation Branch in the Strategic Policy and Planning Division of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) supports leading edge health research and knowledge translation activities for the benefit of the Ontario health system. This research provides data, analyses and knowledge to help build a strong, evidence-based foundation for innovation and decision making to improve the Ontario health care system. The funding agreements established by the Research, Analysis and Evaluation Branch through the Health System Research Fund (HSRF) require most research institutes, centres, programs and projects to set aside a portion of their annual MOHLTC research funding towards Applied Health Research Questions (AHRQs).

An AHRQ is a question posed by a health system policy maker or provider in order to obtain research evidence to inform planning, policy and program development that will benefit the broader Ontario health system.

The AHRQ process:



Three Types of Research Provider Responses

  1. Rapid response – Preliminary information in one week or less providing a "first blush" response, e.g., expert opinion or relevant systematic reviews, articles or reports on a given policy topic.
  2. Research report or technical brief – Approximately 4-8 weeks of work to quickly synthesize the existing research evidence on a given topic. The final product could be a presentation or a report. Upon conclusion of the AHRQ, the researcher will complete the AHRQ Summary of Findings Form which will be disseminated broadly once completed.
  3. Research project – Where it has been confirmed that new knowledge must be generated, i.e., existing knowledge is not sufficient for planning or policy development requirements, new research projects will be initiated. The duration may be months, or years, depending on the project. For longer-term projects it is expected that some information be provided within the funded funding year. Institutions should contact the Research Planning and Management Unit prior to undertaking any longer-term projects. Organizations should not initiate new multi-year projects if they have one year funding agreements unless they can produce some interim or preliminary findings during the funded period. At the end of the project, the researcher will complete an AHRQ Summary of Findings Form which will be disseminated broadly. Interim or preliminary findings will not be disseminated.

It is understood that not every question will result in a research response.

Process and Timing

The AHRQ process will be ongoing throughout the funding year. Knowledge Users should be mindful of the fact that as the funding year progresses, Research Providers might have less capacity to take on new projects as they expend their funding related to AHRQ. Research Providers should limit their work to projects that will have some results within the period for which they have confirmed funding.

AHRQ Process

  1. Research Planning and Management Unit Initiates AHRQ Process for each funding year (April 1 - March 31)
    • Research Planning and Management Unit sends out AHRQ guidelines and Research Provider contact information to Knowledge Users and will cc: Research Providers to initiate the AHRQ process.
    • Research Providers may forward the announcement to local Knowledge Users.
  2. Knowledge User – Research Provider Contact
    • Knowledge User contacts potential Research Providers
    • Knowledge User and Research Provider dialogue to scope AHRQ
    • Research Provider forwards the completed Knowledge User request form to
  3. Research Planning and Management Unit Identifies Previous Relevant Work and Provides Support as Required
    • Research Planning and Management Unit searches internal repositories and shares previously completed work with Knowledge User and Research Provider
    • Research Planning and Management Unit also provides support throughout the process on request
  4. Initiation of Work
    • Research Provider informs the Research Planning and Management Unit of the question that will be addressed, then initiates work
  5. Research Progress Reported
    • Research Provider submits Quarterly Workplan Report to Research Planning and Management Unit for all AHRQs (e.g., in progress, completed, referred, declined) requested during the funding year being reported.
  6. Interim/Preliminary Results Presented
    • For type 2 and 3 responses, Research Provider schedules interim/pre-final report meeting with Knowledge User and include Research Planning and Management Unit, as required.
  7. Research Results Communicated
    • Research Provider sends response to Knowledge User  and will cc: Research Planning and Management Unit. Information is now available to be disseminated broadly.
  8. Knowledge Translation and Dissemination
    • For type 2 and 3 research responses, Research Provider sends one page AHRQ Summary of Findings Form to Research Planning and Management Unit
    • Research Planning and Management Unit works with Research Providers to identify appropriate knowledge translation opportunities.

The Responsibilities of Research Providers

Research Providers will:

The Responsibilities of Knowledge Users

Knowledge Users will:

The Responsibilities of the Research Planning and Management Unit

The Research Planning and Management Unit will:

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is an Applied Health Research Question (AHRQ)?

An AHRQ is a question posed by a health system Knowledge User in order to request research evidence that can be applied to improve or benefit the Ontario health system. Institutes, centres and projects funded through the Health System Research Fund, provide responses to AHRQs in order to inform planning, policy and program development, which in turn helps strengthen the Ontario health system.

Can you provide some examples of Knowledge Users?

Knowledge Users include policy development staff, planners and decision makers from across the Ontario health system including, but not limited to: Ontario ministries, Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs), hospitals (acute and rehabilitation), provincial associations and agencies (e.g., Health Quality Ontario, Public Health Ontario). Research Providers may also suggest their own local Knowledge Users.

Can you provide some examples of Research Providers?

Research Providers are the research institutes, centres, programs or projects that receive funding from the Research, Analysis andEvaluation Branch through the Health System Research Fund (HSRF) under a Transfer Payment Accountability Agreement. (Knowledge translation and exchange HSRF programs and projects are excluded from the AHRQ process). A full list of Research Providers is available on request from

Will the Research Planning and Management Unit screen who can be a Knowledge User?

No, the Research Planning and Management Unit will not be screening Knowledge Users. It will be the responsibility of the Research Providers to determine if the research evidence being sought has the potential to impact planning, policy or program decisions in health and the health care system to be eligible for consideration as an AHRQ. The Research Planning and Management Unit will provide input and advice to Research Providers on request. AHRQs must be approved in writing by a senior decision maker within the Knowledge User's organization (e.g., assistant deputy minister, executive director).

Can organizations that are not on the first outreach email participate as Knowledge Users in the AHRQ process and will the knowledge exchange with them count as AHRQ products in reporting to MOHLTC?

Yes. Research Providers can forward the Research Planning and Management Unit outreach email to local Knowledge Users. It is the responsibility of the research organization to ensure that the engagement with Knowledge Users and resulting AHRQ products meet the requirements for AHRQs.

Prior to the launch of the annual AHRQ process, some Knowledge Users have already connected with Research Providers to undertake AHRQ activities. Does the Research Provider need to inform the Research Planning and Management Unit?

Yes, Research Providers must include this activity on the AHRQ Quarterly Workplan Report to be submitted to the Research Planning and Management Unit. A Knowledge User Request Form should also be submitted to

Are there any restrictions regarding scientists' publication rights or data ownership rights?

What if a question posed appears to seek data and analysis that would support advocacy rather than research evidence and advice?

Research under AHRQ is intended to inform planning, policy and program development that benefits the Ontario health system broadly. Research evidence presented to Knowledge Users must be balanced and reflect the evidence base. For example, Knowledge Users may request a summary of all evidence related to a policy or program but may not ask for only successful examples of implementation. Requests to support specific advocacy positions are neither in scope, nor appropriate, for the AHRQ process.

What documents do I need to complete?

Knowledge Users:

Research Providers:

What if the Research Provider cannot complete the work proposed within the term of the funding agreement?

AHRQs must be able to be completed during the time the funding agreement is in place. A Research Provider might identify from the beginning that the question cannot be researched within the proposed time or funding period. The Research Provider should communicate this directly to the Knowledge User and the Research Planning and Management Unit. The Research Providers and Knowledge Users can then work together, involving the Research Planning and Management Unit for advice as required, to determine if an interim product or preliminary response can be produced during the funded period. The Research Provider should further note if a project will continue beyond the funded period in the AHRQ Quarterly Workplan Report.

The Research Provider, Knowledge User and Research Planning and Management Unit may also agree to bring forward the AHRQ in the future (noting that no commitments can be made outside the funded period).

When do Research Providers need to contact the Research Planning and Management Unit?

Who will be responsible for dissemination when research is finalized?

Depending on the nature of the work, dissemination may involve collaboration between a combination of the Research Provider, Knowledge User and Research Planning and Management Unit. The format for dissemination will also depend on the nature of the work.

The ministry intends to develop a searchable public repository of current and previous AHRQ Summary of Findings to be available in the future on the Research Planning and Management Unit website.

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Research Provider Contact List

Health Promotion

Research Provider


AHRQ Contact

Evaluation to Action: Integrating the Voices of Aboriginal Children (ETA)

Many Aboriginal children live in rural or remote communities, where health services are planned and delivered locally, but have rarely been evaluated. A team of child health researchers and Aboriginal health leaders is examining the impact of a tailored evaluation model (ETA) in partnership with 8 Aboriginal communities. This program will produce child health profiles, learn how this information affects decision making, and strengthen capacity to generate local evidence to improve children’s health. It will also evaluate the effectiveness of Holistic Arts-based-mindfulness and Right to Play's PLAY programs. If effective, the ETA model will be ready for roll-out across the province.

Dr. Nancy Young

Health System Performance and Sustainability

Research Provider


AHRQ Contact

Harnessing Evidence and Values for Health System Excellence

Located at McMaster University in the McMaster Health Forum and the Centre for Health Economics and Policy Analysis, the program’s primary areas of focus are to:

  1. co-produce and support the use of research evidence about system issues (e.g., rapid syntheses);
  2. elicit patient values to inform system decisions (e.g., citizen panels);
  3. design and evaluate approaches to combining evidence and values with other decision influences (e.g., stakeholder dialogues);
  4. involve knowledge users in all aspects of the work and support their use of what’s learned (i.e., integrated knowledge translation).

Gioia Buckley

Health System Performance Research Network (HSPRN)

The Health System Performance Research Network is focused on understanding people’s health trajectories over time, especially individuals with complex health and social care needs. These individuals often have multiple chronic physical and mental health conditions or are nearing the end of life. This program will seek to better understand their needs and current use of the health care system and to find ways to improve outcomes. HSPRN is engaged in evaluating Ontario health system transformation including Health Links and Bundled Care initiatives.  It will also study other health systems to learn how Ontario can advance toward a population-based and person-centered learning health system.

Jessica Della-Schiava

Mental Health and Addictions

Research Provider


AHRQ Contact

Integrating Brain Injury, Mental Health, and Addictions

Although traumatic brain injury (TBI) and problems with mental health and addiction commonly occur, health services for these conditions are often fragmented and insufficient. This program seeks to integrate TBI services with mental health and addictions supports, through four linked projects. It will provide big data analysis of TBI’s impact on health outcomes and service use, identify critical characteristics of housing supports, and determine knowledge gaps among staff working with criminalized men and women, and women survivors of intimate partner violence in this population. Results will support decision makers to initiate evidence-based policy and practice change.

Dr. Angela Colantonio

Improving Support Systems and Health Outcomes for People Experiencing Homelessness

People who are homeless have high rates of mental and physical illnesses, and some are frequent users of hospital-based health care.  This research program will help improve support systems and health outcomes for people experiencing homelessness, increase the sustainability of the health care system, and help guide efforts to end homelessness in Ontario. This program of research will address important practical questions about the long-term effectiveness of Housing First programs, the scale-up of homelessness solutions in Ontario cities, approaches to homelessness among Indigenous people, and innovations in service coordination for homeless people with mental illness.

Evie Gogosis

Opioid Dependence in Rural, Remote and Northern Communities: A Focus on Aboriginal Maternal, Child and Family Health

This research and knowledge translation program will address the effects of opioid use on Indigenous maternal, child and family health.  The Maternal Infant Support Worker Certificate Program will train women in remote First Nations to provide pregnancy and infant support to young women involved with opioids.  The Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School Program will explore Indigenous teens’ understandings of gender, family roles, reproductive health, and substance use.  Both interventions will improve access to culturally appropriate and gender-attentive reproductive health education and care.  Results from the study may inform the development of similar programs for vulnerable mothers, children and families across Ontario.

Dr. Mary Ellen Hill

A Regional Knowledge Mobilization Model for First Nations Mental Wellness Strategies: Building on Local Knowledge and Networks for Provincial and National Impact

Working closely with five First Nations in the Southwest region, this program will collect and apply local data in the development of community wellness strategies addressing mental health, substance use/addiction and/or violence challenges. Drawing on rich mixed methods data, each community will identify a priority area for strategic development and use participatory action research to build comprehensive and culturally appropriate wellness strategies addressing the selected priority area. This program will produce exemplary knowledge-to-action models as well as wellness strategies developed by and for First Nations people addressing high priority issues for dissemination and implementation across the province.

Dr. Samantha Wells

Quality Improvement and Safety

Research Provider


AHRQ Contact

Ontario Transitional Pain and Opioid Safety Program: Improving Pain and Opioid Practices for Complex Chronic Pain Patients Following Surgery

Surgery leads 1 in 5 patients to develop chronic pain. Opioid-dependent patients presenting for surgery receive insufficient and unsuitable care. Most have their opioid doses increased by 200 - 300% after surgery and are sent home without appropriate follow-up. The Transitional Pain Service (TPS) is generating high quality evidence in a field of medicine where none exists. This program will (1) conduct a multisite randomized control trial of the TPS intervention vs. a control intervention on two co-primary outcomes: opioid weaning and improved function one year after surgery for opioid dependent patients; (2) evaluate the cost-effectiveness of this program (3) gather in-depth qualitative data to provide insight into the 1.9 million Ontarians currently taking opioids for pain and struggling to manage their pain.

Dr. Hance Clarke

Implementing Patient-Centred Care for Women Across the Lifespan

Women in Ontario are less likely than men to receive needed health care. Patient-centred care for women (PCCW) tailored to condition, life stage and care setting can improve health care experiences and outcomes, and reduce health care costs. This program will engage patients and health professionals in generating strategies and measures by which to implement and evaluate PCCW for conditions with known health equity/quality issues: family planning, ductal carcinoma in situ, cardiac rehabilitation, and depression. The findings can serve as a model for evaluating PCCW in other conditions, and patient-centred care among men.

Dr. Anna Gagliardi

Improving healthcare system efficiency and sustainability through pharmaceutical policy: the Ontario Drug Policy Research Network

The Ontario Drug Policy Research Network (ODPRN) is a network of drug policy researchers from across Ontario established in 2008. Since that time, it has fostered an innovative research environment that uses population-based healthcare databases to respond rapidly to Ontario policymakers’ needs for high-quality, timely, relevant research to inform drug policy decisions. The ODPRN has proven to be a highly productive and effective model for collaboration between researchers and policymakers, and through continued HSRF support will expand the relevance of this work to a wider range of decision-makers to improve the lives of people in Ontario, across Canada, and internationally.

Samantha Singh

Primary Health Care as the Foundation for Health System Performance, Integration and Sustainability: INSPIRE-PHC-2

This research program addresses the major health system challenges of equitable access to high quality primary health care (PHC) and better co-ordination and integration of PHC with other parts of the health and social care system (community care, public health and specialty care). A series of studies will provide better quality information on patient needs and PHC capacity to deliver care in defined geographic areas, and will provide early feedback on the successes and challenges in introducing PHC reforms. This research will help improve access to care, the care experience for patients, and better health outcomes for all Ontarians.

Eliot Frymire

Ontario Pharmacy Evidence Network: Building quality, sustainable medication management services for patients and the healthcare system (OPEN STIMULUS)

The Ontario Pharmacy Evidence Network: Sustainable Medication Management Services (OPEN:STIMULUS) program will conduct initiatives to improve the quality of medication management and help Ontarians and health care providers better choose, use and remove medications. Initiatives include the development of pharmacies as health hubs, and community and health care provider deprescribing (removing/reducing medications). It will also develop the first provincial tool that will track medication management services and inform policy and practice change. These projects will leverage patient and community engagement, implementation science and quality improvement approaches to improve medication benefits, reduce their harm and improve healthcare system sustainability for all Ontarians.

Dr. Nancy Waite

Long-Term Care

Research Provider


AHRQ Contact

Ontario QUILT (QUality for Individuals who require Long-Term support) Network: Informing Health System Reform for Long-Term and Community Care

Ontarians with long-term care (LTC) needs are cared for in many settings. It is essential that we strengthen the capacity within home care, community care, and residential LTC to meet LTC needs in the most appropriate settings. The Ontario QUILT Network brings together complementary and collaborative research programs aimed at improving system integration and care quality for older adults with LTC needs. QUILT will synthesize evidence, test innovative tools and practices, assess healthcare needs, and use provincial-level data to map care journeys. Research findings will help assure that Ontarians have access to care that is connected across healthcare sectors.

Peter Tanuseputro


Research Provider


AHRQ Contact

Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences

Specialized Research Centre - The advanced analysis of enriched, linked population health data sets to: identify determinants of health and ill health; examine the effectiveness and safety of a wide range of medical interventions including drugs and devices; and, investigate the equity, quality, value and appropriateness of care delivered by the Ontario healthcare systems; aging; various cancers; cardiovascular disease; chronic disease; diabetes; diagnostic testing and screening; disability, drug safety, equity and social determinants of disease; emergency services; gastroenterology; geographic factors in distribution of health and healthcare; health of First Nations and Métis; health technology assessment; health of immigrants; mental health and addiction; peri-natal and child health; primary care models; rehabilitation; resource consumption and costing; respiratory disease; stroke medicine; surgical procedures and pre-operative testing; vaccination, wait times and women's health.

Lisa Ishiguro

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For More Information
Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care
Strategic Policy and Planning Division
Research, Analysis and Evaluation Branch
9th Floor Hepburn Block, 80 Grosvenor Street
Toronto ON M7A 1R3
Tel.: 416-327-7759
E-mail :