About Us

The Disabilities Health Research Network (DHRN) is an integrated, multidisciplinary, and BC-based network that aims to foster high quality research and valuable community connections to better the lives of Canadians living with disability, improves relevant clinical practices for the benefit and health of persons with disability, and leads to improved policies around disability health related issues.

An estimated 4.4 million Canadians, one out of every seven in the population or 14.3%, reported having a disability in 2006. This was an increase of over three-quarters of a million people in just five years. - Participation and Activity Limitation Survey (PALS)-
Age Groups Prevalence of disability by age group, Canada, 2006 in %

Age Groups

Prevalence of disability

Total: All Ages

14.3 %

0 - 4

1.7 %

5 - 14

4.6 %

15 - 24

4.7 %

25 - 34

6.1 %

35 - 44

9.6 %

45 - 54

15.1 %

55 - 64

22.8 %

65 - 74

33 %

75 and over

56.3 %

-Source: Statistics Canada- 2006

British Columbians and the health research community, have a vested interest in improving the quality of life for B.C. citizens with disability. Research plays a crucial role in addressing the challenges of disability. The demographics of disability and the relative lower levels of research and external funding successes of disability health researchers in BC are a reality. With proper leadership, membership, initiatives, and funding, the DHRN represents a critical opportunity to change that situation.

The primary themes of the Disabilities Health Research Network (DHRN) are to foster high quality research that:

  • Solves real problems for persons with disability
  • Improves clinical practices of significance to the health of persons with disability
  • Leads to improved policies of relevance to persons with disability

Network Background

The DHRN was initially developed under the guidance and support of the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR), more specifically the MSFHR Networking Infrastructure Program. Within its first two years,  the DHRN looked to a selected Ad Hoc Task Force and the province of BC for valuable input on its initial development.

Initial DHRN activities included:

  • Investigation of other research networks, especially those in Quebec
  • A comprehensive canvass of B.C. organizations working with disability
  • Three "Research Halls" capturing wider input for Network development
  • Collaboration with the other developing MSFHR Research Networks