Applied Health Research Questions

What are Applied Health Research Questions?

Applied Health Research Questions (AHRQs) are questions about health care in developmental disabilities that any knowledge user in Ontario (e.g., health care providers, policy makers, researchers) can ask of scientists from the H-CARDD team. The AHRQ process is funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. AHRQs can fall into one of three possible categories depending on the complexity of the question and, by extension, how rapidly it can be answered: 

  1. A rapid response question is one that offers a ‘first blush' response to the question as in  an expert opinion or a quick literature review. These questions typically take one week to complete;
  2. A research report or technical brief question is one that synthesizes existing research and/or evidence and culminates in a report and/or a presentation by the research scientist. It typically takes four to eight weeks; and
  3. A research project question is one that generates new knowledge and may take anywhere from two months to a year or two to complete.

Can you give me some examples?

  1. Rapid response questions: Is Emergency Department (ED) use an issue in our hospital? How many patients with developmental disabilities (DD) go to our ED in a year and what proportion of all ED visits do they represent? How many people have dual diagnosis in our region?
  2. Research report or technical brief questions: Do Family Health Teams see patients with DD? What are the barriers to caring for them? What has been learned about doing health checks in other jurisdictions? Do they work? Why should we do them when the periodic exam is no longer recommended generally?
  3. Research project questions: How do adults with DD in the North access their health care? Do they have less access to specialists than people without developmental disabilities? Which health conditions do they most frequently have diagnosed and what impact does distance to hospital have?

Benefits of the AHRQs initiative

The AHRQ initiative has been put in place to address the many barriers that tend to separate knowledge users from researchers. The process is intended to support knowledge exchange among policy makers, service providers, development/planning staff, and researchers. This process can help to identify research needs and gaps in evidence across the system and in turn inform policy development and service delivery. The extensive engagement of knowledge users will enable broader dissemination of findings.

Sounds great! So, how do I submit an AHRQ?

At this point all that is needed is to complete the request form and then send it to a senior decision-maker within the organization making the request. The senior decision-maker will be asked to determine if the information will be of benefit to the organization and whether the information will help the organization carry out its work. For the AHRQ request form, please contact the H-CARDD program manager (contact information below) or the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care at

We anticipate that AHRQ demand will increase over time. We are committed to implementing a process that will be fair to knowledge users and will ensure equitable access to research information.

What AHRQs has H-CARDD already answered?

We have already completed several AHRQs on various topics, from medication use among adults with DD to issues related to aging. You can access short summaries of these projects here.

I want to find out more! Who should I contact?

Denise Canso, Program Manager Health Care Access Research and Developmental Disabilities
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
Phone: 416 535-8501 ext. 37814


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