Dr. Quinn Grundy awarded Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Insight Development grant

10 September 2020

Bloomberg Nursing Assistant Professor Quinn Grundy received a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Insight Development grant for her projectOutsourced and proprietary expertise: Understanding industry’s role in the provision of practice-based education in Canadian hospitals.”

At present time, representatives from medically related industries — including the pharmaceutical and medical device industries — are present in hospitals on a day-to-day basis to provide product-related education and support to healthcare providers. Industry expertise is generally considered necessary for the safe and competent use of drugs, devices, and equipment. Industry’s educational activities in these hospitals are typically considered a cost-savings and ‘value add’, providing opportunities for continuing professional development and product support. Though they ostensibly serve an educational purpose, most industry representatives work concurrently in a sales capacity. 

Dr. Grundy’s study aims to understand the implications of industry’s role as an ‘educator’ in ways that account for the situated and social nature of expertise and the ways it is mediated by technologies and a polycentric network of regulators. 

This research is timely, as Canadian hospitals are currently seeking to strategically integrate innovation and technology into health services.

Dr. Grundy and team will conduct a critical ethnography at the University Health Network (UHN) — a leading academic hospital — to examine the power relations and structures that regulate and legitimate these status quo arrangements. Data will be collected through interviews with key informants and focus groups with clinicians that have a high degree of interaction with industry in an educational capacity. 

The research objectives of this study include: 

  • Understanding the range of ways that representatives of medically related industry are involved in practice-based education in hospitals in Canada;  
  • Understanding the implications of the development of proprietary expertise; and 
  • Analysing industry’s role as an educator in relation to broader historical, social, political, and material conditions.

Dr. Grundy’s project will also deliver key ethical insights related to the interactions between industry and professionals in the areas of continuing education and professional practice, and therefore will inform codes of ethics or position statements for practitioner and industry associations, alike. Communication of findings through the mainstream media will raise critical awareness of trends in privatization of public services and industry involvement in the public sector among the general public.

Dr. Grundy is an Honorary Senior Lecturer with the School of Pharmacy and Charles Perkins Centre at The University of Sydney. Dr. Grundy’s research explores the commercial determinants of health and their impact on the delivery of health services, health evidence, and consumer health information. Her research encompasses three main themes:

  • The relationships between health professionals and medically-related industry
  • Conflicts of interest and industry sponsorship within biomedical research
  • Commercial influences in mobile health