By Frédérique Mazerolle, Department of Family Medicine

We wish to congratulate Dr. Jeannie Haggerty, recipient of the 2018 Family Medicine Researcher of the Year Award from the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC).

The Family Medicine Researcher of the Year Award recognizes a CFPC member who has made original and crucial contributions to research and knowledge building in family medicine in Canada. The work may encompass any aspect of primary care research, from clinical to health services to medical education. This award honours a researcher who has been a pivotal force in the definition, development and dissemination of concepts central to the discipline of family medicine.

Dr. Jeannie Haggerty has been with the McGill Department of Family Medicine as a full professor since 2010. For the last two years, she has been the interim Scientific Director of the St. Mary’s Research Centre, as well as the Scientific Director of the McGill Primary Care Practice-Based Research Network (PBRN).

Holder of the first McGill Chair in Family and Community Medicine Research, based at St. Mary’s Hospital Centre, for more than eight years, her domain of research englobes the factors related to accessibility and quality of primary care, particularly the impact of health system policies and reforms.

After finishing her Master’s degree in Epidemiology and Biostatistics at McGill, Dr. Haggerty’s entry to the world of family medicine was facilitated through her participation in the establishment of a new residency program in Family and Community Medicine in Costa Rica, in partnership with the Department of Family Medicine. She says that the exposure to the clinical realities of family medicine was influential throughout her career – her doctoral work focused on the relationship between the performance on medical licensing examinations and subsequent family practice (as determined by medical billings) from three cohorts of family physician graduates.

Dr. Haggerty’s most seminal work is a cross-disciplinary definition of continuity of care. “My interest in continuity of care coincided with this being identified as a priority for health services research in Canada,” she explains. “However, it was also obvious from initial project funding rounds that there was no common understanding of continuity of care.”  The term meant different things in different health disciplines, and Haggerty and colleagues reviewed more than 500 articles to propose a definition and typology that is now widely used.

At the beginning of the 2000’s, massive investments to renew primary care exposed a need for more clarity around concrete evaluation measures, leading Dr. Haggerty to focus on valid and precise measurement of the patient perspective. This shift in the research culture has been decisive for Dr. Haggerty, as it “became [her] mission to try to portray the patient or public voice in a robust and meaningful way.”

She is also the founding director of Quebec Knowledge Network in Primary Health Care, Réseau de connaissance en soins intégrés de première ligne du Québec (Réseau-1 QC), whose purpose is to embed a collaborative culture in research and integrated front-line care and services in Quebec, for the production and application of knowledge to improve practices for the benefit of patients.

“I want to acknowledge the community of primary care clinicians and researchers who made a place for me to learn about family medicine and health service delivery from the inside,”,she explains. “The primary care research community in North America survives and thrives as a gift economy – generous sharing of ideas, often leading to deep friendships as well as collaborations. I must acknowledge the talent, tenacity and passion of my research assistants and staff; many of whom have now worked with me for many years.”

It is with great pride that we congratulate Dr. Haggerty for her tireless work and dedication to research in primary care.

October 18, 2018