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SFU team leads launch of health dashboard for African, Caribbean and Black communities in Canada
By: Sharon Mah
A national collaborative team led by Simon Fraser University (SFU) Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS) professor Angela Kaida and SFU Research Computing Group (RCG) big data analyst Jillian Anderson has launched an online dashboard that visually summarizes data collected for a study examining health and social impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on African, Caribbean, and Black (ACB) communities in Canada.
The APCI study Data Visualization Dashboard offers multiple visual presentations of data collected from 1,556 participants and presented in the African, Caribbean, and Black Community PHAC-funded COVID-19 Impact (APCI) Study: Community Report. The investigation, led by Dr. Josephine Etowa at the University of Ottawa and published in August 2022, conducted a rapid assessment of the impacts of the pandemic on ACB access to sexually transmitted and blood-borne infection (STBBI) related services, including HIV prevention and treatment services, and determinants of health.
“A key objective of the APCI study was to provide access to study data about ACB communities in Canada to those who need it. The dashboard is essential knowledge translation of the findings of the APCI study,” says Kaida, who is also a co-author of the APCI Study Community Report.
Etowa notes that the authors of the report, along with the team creating the visualization dashboard, want everyone who could benefit from this new data to explore this new tool. “We are hopeful that community members, researchers, policy makers, front-line service providers, and others will use the data visualizations in the dashboard to inform programming, policy, community-engaged research, and advocacy to improve the health and well-being of ACB people across Canada.”
The online dashboard allows users to explore data from seven categories:
- Sociodemographic characteristics;
- Mental health and wellness;
- Financial status, housing stability, and food security;
- Domestic violence;
- Racism, stigma, and discrimination;
- Substance use and harm reduction services; and
- Sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections (STBBI) prevention, testing, and treatment services.
Within each category, dashboard users can examine overall data, as well as explore how the respondents’ data were distributed according to age group, gender, ethnic identity, and province.
Kaida turned to the SFU Research Computing Group to help create the analytical and technical framework for the APCI Study Data Visualization Dashboard. RCG analyst Anderson worked with Kaida and several members of the African, Caribbean, and Black National Expert Working Group (ACB-NEWG) to design an easy-to-use interface and data presentations that could be easily accessed and understood by lay persons as well as experts. “We want everyone with an interest in the health of ACB communities to be able to call up and/or download these visualizations for immediate use, whether that be for a grant application, a public talk, or inclusion in a research presentation,” she says. “This ‘ready to use’ format will provide specific, evidence-based information about ACB people in Canada to anyone who needs it.”
James Peltier, Associate Director of SFU RCG was enthusiastic about partnering with Kaida and the ACB-NEWG to develop the dashboard. “This work came to us via the Strategic Partnerships Hub and the SFU Big Data Hub. We’re pleased to lend our expertise and skills to the SFU research community. The mandate of the RCG is to assist SFU researchers by leveraging platforms and infrastructure that will help accelerate their research outcomes. Equity, diversity and inclusion is also a core ethos for SFU and we want to ensure that we help push that message forward and this was just a natural way in which to accomplish that goal,” he says. “Jillian Anderson’s background in data science was perfectly suited to help create a tool that makes this data available those working to improve equity, health, and quality of life for ACB communities across the country.”
To access the data visualizations, navigate to the top right corner of the APCI study Data Visualization Dashboard homepage and click on “Sections.” Kaida, Anderson and the ACB-NEWG invite those with questions or feedback about the dashboard to contact the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.