The major health concerns facing Canadians over the next two to three decades will be those that are chronic in nature (Public Health Agency of Canada, 2004). Thus, these concerns are an ongoing facet of everyday life for affected individuals and their families and prompt them to search for supportive partnerships so as to attain an optimal quality of life. Seeking assistance to live well takes place within the professional, popular and folk domains of the health care system. So it is, that both persons with chronic health concerns and healers (professional and lay), are embedded in specific configurations of cultural meanings and social relationships. Chronicity, then, exists within certain political, social, cultural realities in an ever changing technological environment.
The mission of the Chronicity Areas of Excellence (AoE) is to advance and disseminate knowledge and to influence public policy related to living well with chronic health concerns. This mission is conducted with an awareness of the ethical and moral perspectives of persons with chronic health concerns. Thus, the work of the AoE will be conducted in partnership with people whose lives are affected by chronic health concern. The mission will be fulfilled through:
1) Scholarship of discovery – involves the development of research programs in the broad areas of prevention, promotion, intervention, surveillance and monitoring, program delivery, health policy, professional practice and foundational or basic research. This discovery will be facilitated by fostering inter and multidisciplinary research, nurturing student research, offering doctoral and postdoctoral education in living with chronicity and mentoring faculty.
2) Scholarship of integration – involves making connections within and between disciplines and altering the context in which people view knowledge. Integration of knowledge will be achieved by establishing and fostering partnerships among community, university, government and industry. These partnerships will involve persons with chronic health issues and their families, clinicians and educators.
3) Scholarship of application – involves the use of knowledge in the broader community. It will be achieved through facilitation of a process to review the impact of research findings on individuals with chronic health issues and their families and on integration into health care policy and health promotion programs.
4) Scholarship of teaching – involves the dissemination of knowledge and implies a responsibility to challenge students, academics, and members of the public to question emerging knowledge and constantly explore new areas of research. The AoE will fulfill this mandate by contributing to undergraduate and graduate education and public education on chronicity, serving as a centre of information on current and ongoing research, and facilitating publication of research findings and theoretical papers. In addition the AoE will forge national and international linkages with partners in the global community in order to work together to ease the burden of disease.
The conceptual framework which underpins the Chronicity AoE is founded on primary health care principles which emphasize working with people with chronic health concerns across the life span where they live and work. Implicit within these principles are concepts such as health promotion, quality of life, health behaviour, health determinants, health outcomes, transition, professional practice and living well.