New project to raise awareness about equity, diversity and inclusion in health research

Tricia McGuire-Adams is an associate professor at the University of Toronto Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education
Tricia McGuire-Adams is an associate professor at the University of Toronto Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education

A new project is bringing together Black, Indigenous and people of colour researchers in kinesiology to raise more awareness about issues of equity, diversity, Indigeneity, inclusion and accessibility (EDIIA) in health research.

The project, called Navigating EDIIA in physical activity and health research: Defining terminology and approaches, was spearheaded by Eun-Young Lee of Queen’s University and funded by the Canadian Institute for Health Research (CIHR) Planning and Dissemination Grant. 

It involves a mix of early and mid-career researchers in the discipline of kinesiology from across Canada, including Tricia McGuire-Adams, an associate professor at the University of Toronto Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education (KPE). McGuire-Adams, who is an Anishinaabe woman from Bingwi Neyaashi Anishinaabek, will bring an Indigenous health perspective in understanding EDIIA. 

What are the specific objectives of this project?

TMA: Our immediate objectives are twofold. In 2017 and 2022, CIHR implemented sex-and-gender-based analysis (SGBA) and gender-based analysis (GBA+) as required areas of focus for funded research projects. So, our first order of business will be to complete a systematic scoping review focusing on the ways in which social-identity terms such as sex and gender, race and ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc., have been defined, operationalized and/or used in physical activity and health research since these policies were introduced.

Second, we will bring together our research team who represent BIPOC identities to have a series of discussions and work together to identify priorities and recommendations for improving EDII in health research.    

Why is this work important?

TMA: CIHR has concertedly focused on equity, diversity and inclusion by encouraging researchers to incorporate these tenets into their research plans. While this focus is needed to better situate the ways equity, diversity and inclusion are part of research, guidance that translates into research is lacking. Terms like sex and gender are constantly being conflated or misused, which leads to the interpretations of the results being missed or not useful in addressing sexism or gender inequalities. 

Moreover, key intersectionality factors like race and ethnicity are also misused or conflated. For example, simply observing and reporting racial or ethnic differences in participation offer little in making the changes we need to get more people to be physically active for optimal health. 

Physical activity and health researchers must move beyond just measuring simple sex/gender, race/ethnicity and other identity-based variables. We must also ensure that we are paying concerted attention to the root causes of inequity in physical activity such as sexism, racism, homo/transphobia, ableism and discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity, social class and minority language and immigrant status.

How will researchers benefit from this project?

TMA: The outcome of our planning meeting will include providing concrete and specific recommendations with examples on how researchers from varying fields can integrate sex and gender in their research process in a meaningful way. And the results of the scoping review will illuminate where the field is currently in incorporating such intersectionality.