CBR Musings: Program Science at CAHR

The Canadian Associate for HIV Research (CAHR) 2015 Conference provided a lot of food for thought on Program/Implementation Science. Program Science is the approach that the CIHR Centre for REACH in HIV/AIDS, of which PAN is an active partner, has chosen to adopt for its work. Program science can be defined as promoting “collaboration and integration between programs and science to improve the ways programs are designed, implemented and evaluated to accelerate and increase health impact” (Program Science Meeting Report, May 3-5, 2010. Rome, Italy). You can learn more by reading PAN’s Program Science Primer.

First up at CAHR, REACH hosted an Ancillary Event on Thursday, April 30th called Program Science in Practice. This all-day event aimed to help participants become more familiar with the basic foundations of program science, what it looks like in practice and how it can be used to create more effective interventions.

Points of Interest:

  • Program science can work at both the systems level − engaging multiple interventions and projects over a large region − or at the local, organizational level − working to evaluate one project or working to adapt an effective intervention (service, project or program) into a community-based organization.
  • Program science engages in multiple ways of asking and answering questions, in other words it seeks to collect data or information to inform decision-making by using a variety of methods, such as evaluation, math modelling, or cost effectiveness studies.

Next at CAHR, REACH held a Program Science session on Friday, May 1st that aimed to introduce Program/Implementation Science, as well as explore its pragmatics with real world examples and describe how these approaches can create more effective health interventions and solutions.

Points of Interest:

  • One question that seemed to come up multiple times was: What is the difference between Implementation Science and Program Science? Nancy Edwards from CIHR spoke about the amount similarities and great complementarity between the two but James Blanchard from the Centre for Global Public Health at the University of Manitoba provided a strong explanation about their differences. Program Science works across the planning, implementation and evaluation phases (opposed to implementation science which looks at implementation) and that program science works at the program level, which have multiple components (services, projects and interventions) interacting together, within a broad complex system to optimize a population level impact (whereas Implementation Science is often looking at one intervention or service).
  • There was a focus on the importance of community-based participatory research in informing and complimenting a program science approach.


Questions? Feedback? Get in touch!Janice Headshot
Janice Duddy, Manager of Evaluation
[email protected]