Soutien à la recherche et concours FR/EN : Soutien à des initiatives structurantes - Transformations numériques en santé des populations : enjeux et perspectives / Calls for proposals: Digital Transformations in Population Health

Calls for proposals for structuring initiatives : Digital Transformations in Population Health : Challenges and Perspectives


Population health research aims to identify, understand and act on the social determinants of health in order to guide public health interventions and inform public policies in order to participate in improving the health of populations. The mission of the Quebec Population Health Research Network (RRSPQ) is to support the development of population health research capacity in Quebec. Interdisciplinary, inter-institutional and intersectoral collaborations, essential to understanding contemporary health problems, are favored.

Aim of the competition

The goal of this competition is to allow researchers from different sites and sectors in Quebec to develop a structuring initiative[1] focused on the acceleration of digital transformations in population health, including but not limited to changes arising due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Digital equity and digital literacy (access and use of ICT) are now considered a determinant of health. It is important to be concerned about this digital shift, as it will likely remain, to avoid exacerbating the related pre-existing social inequalities. Therefore, projects exploring ethical issues and inequalities linked to the digital shift will be prioritized. literacy (access and use of ICT) are now considered a determinant of health. It is important to be concerned about this digital shift, as it will likely remain, to avoid exacerbating the related pre-existing social inequalities. Therefore, special attention will be given to projects exploring ethical issues and inequalities linked to the digital shift.

The accelerated adoption of digital technologies in public health, related to care, telehealth, prevention, health promotion or surveillance, brings up several challenges. Proposals taking a critical stance regarding the place of technology and digital technology in health interventions ((in)equity in access to care, digital literacy, digital inequalities, participatory democracy, issues of confidentiality and data security, ethical and legal issues, issues regarding public-private partnerships in the development of innovations, among others) are encouraged, as are those that explore the challenges brought by the substitution of face-to-face work by digital work for populations in vulnerable situations and their potential for complementarity. As public health will likely increase its use of digital technologies, the future of post-pandemic public health in the digital age is an issue that could also be explored as part of this call for proposals. Projects submitted may, for example, address the following issues: How does digital technology support the management of health crises and the accompanying health measures? How can we learn from the current pandemic to plan for future population health interventions? How to develop, implement or use these technologies without accentuating social inequalities? How can digital technology overcome situations of physical and social isolation? How can these digital transformations influence professional practices in population health and what are the related issues?

Thus, the ICT and health axis, Ethics axis and Social Inequalities in Health and Equity axis of the RRSPQ intend to support two structuring initiatives exploring the challenges and perspectives arising from the accelerated digital transformations in population health. Structuring aspects must be clearly demonstrated in the project description. In this regard, interdisciplinary collaborations with members of several axes of the RRSPQ and/or other FRQS networks, and/or other organizations and/or several academic institutions and sectors are strongly recommended.

Eligibility Criteria

  • This competition is open to regular research members of the RRSPQ.
  • At the time of disbursement of funds, the team should not have funds from another granting agency for the realization of this project.
  • A regular researcher member of the RRSPQ can only submit one application under this competition, as principal investigator or co-principal investigator.
  • A single researcher can submit several submissions or appear as a co-investigator in several submissions to the current competitions to support structuring initiatives of the RRSPQ and its Axes. However, in order to give equitable access to this support to the greatest number of our members, the same researcher (principal investigator or co-investigator) cannot be funded more than once a year. If the same researcher appears in more than one submission to IS RRSPQ competitions, priority may be given to the submission that obtained the highest score in the evaluation.
  • The team must agree to submit a grant application to an external organization (other than the RRSPQ) after this financial support has ended and inform those responsible for the strategic axes.
  • Literature reviews, even systematic, cannot constitute eligible projects within the framework of this competition.
  • The same project can only be funded once by the FRQS, the RRSPQ and / or its strategic axes and training programs.

Evaluation Criteria 

The evaluation of the proposals will take into account the following:

  • Scientific quality: clarity of the problem and of the objectives; methodological rigor; feasibility of the proposal and of the implementation schedule; expected results and benefits in terms of future project or impact.
  • Relevance in relation to the research areas of the two strategic axes of the RRSPQ which finance this call (ICT and Health, Ethics axis and Global Health Axis), particularly the accelerated digital transformations in population health.
  • Interdisciplinary, inter-institutional and inter-sectoral team collaborations: researchers must have different and complementary expertise.
  • Priority will be given to projects including at least two regular RRSPQ research members from two different universities or establishments.
  • High added-value collaborations / partnerships (key players, decision-makers, knowledge users, etc.).
  • Leveraging effect: the ability to attract partners and obtain other sources of funding.
  • Sustainability plan: planning for the development of the project beyond the year of funding by the RRSPQ.
  • Description of a clear and realistic timeline: the timeline must span one year.


  • The researchers who will be funded must submit a financial report to demonstrate the use of the allocated funds as well as a scientific report.
  • Funded researchers agree to mention the financial participation of the RRSPQ and to use the RRSPQ logo (if possible) for any activity resulting from the funded project, including publications, announcements, communications. The following formulations are suggested:
    "The research team would like to thank the ICT and Health axis, Ethics axis and Social Health Inequalities and Equity axis of the Quebec Population Health Research Network (RRSPQ - QPHRN) for its contribution to the financing of this project.”
    « L’équipe de recherche remercie les axes TIC et santé, Éthique et Inégalités sociales de santé et équité du Réseau de recherche en santé des populations du Québec (RRSPQ) pour leurs contributions au financement de ce projet. »
  • Laureates agree to publish the title and a summary of their research (in French and English) on the RRSPQ website, as soon as their selection is announced.
  • The researchers who will be funded are expected at the RRSPQ's annual scientific day and may be asked to present their results on this occasion.


Applications must be submitted by email with the subject line: "Competition - Structuring Initiative" no later than May13th, 2022, at 17h00, to the following address:

Download the application form

Evaluation of applications

Applications will be evaluated by a committee set up by the ICT and Health, Ethics and Social Health Inequalities and Equity axis. The results will be communicated at the latest within one month of the project submission deadline, subject to the availability of designated evaluators.


For any other information, please contact the coordinator of the Social Health Inequalities and Equity axis at the following address: 

[1] The objective of a structuring initiative is to bring together individual researchers, teams or other groups of researchers, and partners from public, private or community circles. This structuring initiative can take the form of:

• a pilot project (intended to prepare - within one year of the end of the project - a grant application from funding bodies for a larger project);

• a major project (dissemination, promotion, or scientific exchange event; research project, etc.) or

• be the basis for the development of a collective infrastructure (setting up of common services; development of a technical or electronic platform; pooling of expertise in the service of researchers; development of a database; etc).

It must be demonstrated in what ways the planned structuring initiative - identified need, targeted objectives, established priorities, means put in place and planned activities - will allow the development of coherent and productive links between researchers in the network, on the one hand, and with partners from public, private or community circles, on the other hand (This definition is inspired by

Guide for the management and governance of the thematic networks of the FRQS, July 2018, art. 3.3.3.)

Submission deadline

Extented May 13th, 2022 - 17h00

Submission to:


30 000$ (2 grants of 15 000$ each)

Download the description of this competition in a pdf format

Download the application form