Researcher Spotlight: Maureen Markle-Reid
Jul 27, 2022
One piece of advice that Dr. Maureen Markle-Reid gives to new researchers is to “pick an area of research that you really enjoy and that can have a potential impact on policy and practice.” Looking back over her 30+ year career, it’s clear that she has followed this advice herself—with great success.
Markle-Reid holds a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in person-centred interventions for older adults with multimorbidity and their caregivers, and she is the Scientific Co-lead of the McMaster Collaborative for Health and Aging, and the Co-Scientific Director of the Aging, Community and Health Research Unit.
She first became involved in research as part of her MScN program at the University of Toronto. “My Master’s thesis focused on the relationship between social support and meaning of illness in the early discharge phase in adults who had experienced a heart attack. At the time, I was working in a cardiac care unit at the Toronto Western Hospital, and in the community as a visiting nurse,” Markle-Reid says.
For the past few decades, Markle-Reid’s research has focused on three related areas. “First, I co-design patient-oriented interventions to improve care and outcomes for older adults with multiple chronic conditions, and to support their family caregivers. Second, I work on advancing the science of patient-oriented health intervention research. Third, I am taking what we’ve learned through this research to develop resources and tools for other researchers and trainees to help advance the science of patient-oriented research that specifically focuses on aging,” she says.
One recent example of a research project is the “transitional care stroke intervention”, or TCSI, which she describes below.
“The hospital-to-home transition for older adult stroke survivors is often fragmented, resulting in hospital readmissions, reduced quality of life, patient satisfaction and safety, and increased caregiver burden. Stroke survivors often feel unprepared to self-manage following hospital discharge or discharge from formal outpatient or other community-based services. The TCSI was designed to improve the quality and experience of transitions from hospital to home for older adults with stroke and multimorbidity and their family caregivers. A major focus of the TCSI was on promoting self-management and helping people navigate the system and link them to community-based health and social services. We conducted a feasibility study in collaboration with Hamilton Health Sciences, Regional Rehabilitation Centre. The results of this study showed that the TCSI was feasible to implement in usual care practice, acceptable to patients and providers, and resulted in a reduction in hospitalization. Building on this feasibility study, we conducted a trial to further test the intervention in two sites in Ontario. The results showed that the TCSI produced greater improvements in physical functioning, self-management and patient experience compared with usual care,” she notes.
The exciting thing about these studies, says Markle-Reid, is that they have already resulted in changes in practice within the two study sites. “While conducting both studies, the hospitals started to integrate some aspects of the intervention. We had a care coordinator who led the team and helped people navigate. The hospital saw such value in this role that they created a position for a care coordinator in the hospital. This is an example of how we were changing practice as we studied it,” she says.