Evaluating Children's Health Outcomes Research Centre



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[tab title="Overview"]

As a concept, ECHO represents the bouncing back of ideas.  The word is fun, familiar and welcomed by children and embodies the ECHO Research Centre’s child-centric approach to research.

ECHO is a Research Centre dedicated to the study of health and health-related quality of life issues in children and young adults.  The primary goal of the ECHO Research Centre is to promote the development of child health knowledge through research.


The key objectives of ECHO are:

  • To facilitate the training of researchers in child health research by enveloping them in a supportive child health research environment;
  • To increase the credibility of members at the funding table by achieving broader recognition;
  • To achieve efficiencies through collective hiring and sharing of best practices;
  • To increase the volume and quality of child health research.


The ECHO Research Centre is comprised of innovative faculty at Laurentian University who share a common interest in improving the health and well-being of children through research.  The core team combines expertise from the fields of clinical epidemiology (Dr. Nancy Young), health geography (Dr. Nicole Yantzi), kinesiology (Dr. Alain Gauthier), nursing (Dr. Sylvie Larocque), human kinetics (Prof. Stephen Richie), social work (Dr. Diana Coholic), psychology (Dr. Annie Roy-Charland).  They are supported by non-core team member Dr. Michel Lariviere (human kinetics). The group is led by Dr. Nancy L. Young, from the School of Rural and Northern Health, who holds a Canada Research Chair in Rural and Northern Children’s health.


The ECHO Research Centre focuses on vulnerable populations including:

  • Children and youth with physical disabilities
  • Children in care
  • Children and youth in rural and northern regions
  • Aboriginal children and youth
  • Accessibility and inclusivity of children, particularly in the school environment
  • Design and effectiveness of innovative intervention programs including arts-based therapy and outdoor adventure leadership programs

[tab title="Publications"]

Dr. Nancy Young (ECHO Director)

Young NL, Rochon TG, McCormick A, Law M, Fehlings D, Wedge J. The Health and Quality of Life Outcomes among Youth and Young Adults with Cerebral PalsyArchives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 2010; 91: 143-148.


Young NL, Varni JW, Snider L, McCormick A, Sawatzky B, Scott M, King G, Hetherington R, Sears E, Nicholas D. The Internet is Valid and Reliable for Child-Report: An Example Using the ASK and PedsQL.Journal of Clinical Epidemiology 2009; 62 (3): 314-320.


Young NLThe Transition to Adulthood for Children with Cerebral Palsy: What Do We Know About Their Health Care Needs? Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics, 2007; 27(4): 476-479.


Young NLBradley C, Wakefield C, Barnard D, Blanchette VS, McCusker PJ. How Well Does the Canadian Haemophilia Outcomes – Kids Life Assessment Tool (CHO-KLAT) Measure the Quality of Life in Boys with Haemophilia? Pediatric Blood and Cancer, 2006; 47(3): 305-311.


Young NL, Barden W, LeForte S, Nissen-Jordan C, Daniels C, Dick PT and the Tele-HomeCare Team. Tele-HomeCare: A Comparison of Three Canadian ModelsTelemedicine Journal and E-Health, 2004; 10 (1): 45-5.


Young NL, William JI, Yoshida KK, Wright JG. Measurement Properties of the Activities Scale for Kids (ASK).Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, 2000; 53(2): 125-137.


Young NL, Yoshida KK, Williams JI, Bombardier C, Wright JG. The Role of Children in Reporting their Physical DisabilityArchives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 1995; 76(10): 913-918.


Dr. Diana Coholic

Coholic, D. (2010). Arts Activities for Children and Young People in Need: Helping children to develop mindfulness, spiritual awareness and self‑esteem. London, UK: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.


Coholic, D., Eys, M., & Lougheed, S. (published on-line 2011). Investigating the effectiveness of an arts-based and mindfulness-based group program for the improvement of resilience in children in need. Journal of Child and Family Studies.  DOI 10.1007/s10826-011-9544-2


Coholic, D., Fraser, M., Robinson, B., & Lougheed, S. (in press). Promoting resilience within child protection: The suitability of arts-based and experiential group programs for children-in-care. Social Work with Groups, 35 (4).


Coholic, D. (2011). Exploring the feasibility and benefits of arts-based mindfulness- based practices with young people in need: Aiming to improve aspects of self-  awareness and resilience. Child and Youth Care Forum, 40 (4), 303-317.


Coholic, D., Lougheed, S., & Cadell, S. (2009). Exploring the helpfulness of arts- based methods with children living in foster care. Traumatology, 15 (3), 64-71.Dr. Alain Gauthier


Dorman, S., Gauthier, A.P., & Thirkill, L. (In press) The Balanced School Day: Implications for Student Nutrition and Levels of Physical Activity. Physical and Health Education Journal.


Gauthier, A.P., Laurence, M., Thirkill, L., & Dorman, S. (In press) Examining school-based pedometer step counts among children in grades 3 to 6 using different timetables. Journal of School Health.


Gauthier, A. P., Young, N. L., Snelling, S. J., Sears, E., & Burke, T. (2011). Looking Beyond the Bright Lights: Identifying Canadian Indicators of Health for Children in Rural and Northern Regions. Child Indicators Research. 4(1), 169-183.


Dr. ##slarocque##

Neufeld, A., Harrison, M.J., Rempel, G., Larocque, S., Dublin, S., Stewart, M., & Huges, K.. (2010). Practical issues in using a card sort in a study of nonsupport and family caregiving. In A. Neufeld, & M. J. Harrison.Nursing and Family Caregiving : Social Support and Nonsupport. New York: Springer (Chapter 10, pp. 227-240).


Neufeld, A., Harrison, M.M., Rempel, G., Larocque, S., Dublin, S., Stewart, M., Hughes, K. (2004). Practical issues in using card sort in a study of non-support and family caregiving. Qualitative Health Research, 14 (10), 1418-1428.


Bruce, B., Letourneau, N., Ritchie, J., Larocque, S., Dennis, C., & Elliot, R. (2002). A Multi-site Study of Health Professionals’ Perceptions and Practices of Family Centered Care. Journal of Family Nursing, 8 (4), 408-429.


Tourigny, J., Larocque, S., Longpré, S. & Lahaie, N. (1999). Mesure des conduites parentales lors d'une chirurgie de l'enfant en court séjour. Recherche en soins infirmiers, 57, 90-98.


Prof. ##sritchie##

Wabano MJ & Ritchie SD. (2011). Using outdoor adventure leadership experience to promote resilience and well-being for Wikwemikong youth. Health Canada: FNIH Research Bulletin, 3(1), 1-2. Funded by IHRDP.


Ritchie SD, Wabano MJ, Young N, Schinke R, Peltier D, Battochio R, & Russell K. (2010). Developing a culturally relevant outdoor leadership training program for Aboriginal youth. Journal of Experiential Education, 32(3), 300-304.


Ritchie SD, Wabano MJ, Young NL. (2010). Aboriginal Health and Intergenerational Relationships. OHA Today (Bi-Weekly eNewsletter), December 2010. p.1. Ottawa, ON: Ontario Hospital Association (OHA). Available for viewing from http://www.ohatoday.com/Newsletter%20Archive%20%20Education/Education-11.... Funded by LU.


Schinke RJ, Yungblut HE, Blodgett A, Peltier D, Ritchie SD, & Recollet-Saikonnen D. (2010). The role of families in youth sport programming within a Canadian Aboriginal community. The Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 7(2), 156-166.


Blodgett AT, Schinke RJ, Fisher LA, Wassengeso-George C, Peltier D, Ritchie SD, & Pickard P. (2008). From practice to praxis: Community-based strategies for Aboriginal youth sport. Journal of Sport & Social Issues, 32(4), 393-414.


Dr. ##aroycharland##

Saint-Aubin, J., & Roy-Charland, A. (2012). Is familiarity the all-purpose reading tool? The case of the missing-letter effect for self-generated texts. Scientific Study of Reading, 16, 35-44.


Saint-Aubin, J., Kenny, S. & Roy-Charland, A. (2010). The role of eye movements in the missing-letter effect revisited with the rapid visual presentation procedure. Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology, 64, 47-52.


Roy-Charland, A., Saint-Aubin, J., Lawrence, M., & Klein, R. M. (2009). Solving the chicken and egg problem of letter detection and fixation duration in reading. Attention, Perception & Psychophysics, 71, 1553-1562.


Evans, M. A., Roy-Charland, A., & Saint-Aubin, J. (2009). A new look at an old format: eye tracking studies of shared book reading and the implications for e-books and e-book research. In A. G. Bus & S. B. Neuman (Eds.), Multimedia and literacy development: Improving achievement for young learners. New York, NY: Tailor & Francis group.


Roy-Charland, A., Saint-Aubin, J., & Evans, M. A. (2007). Eye movements in shared book reading with children from kindergarten to grade four. Reading & Writing 20, 909-931.


Dr. ##nyantzi##

Yantzi, N.M., Rosenberg, M.W. (2008). The contested meanings of home for women caring for children with long-term care needs in Ontario, Canada. Gender, Place, & Culture 15, 1, 301-315.


Yantzi, N.M., Rosenberg, M.W, McKeever, P. (2007). Getting out of the house: The challenges mothers face when children have long-term care needs.  Health and Social Care in the Community. 15, 45-55.


Yantzi, N., Rosenberg, M.W., Burke, S.O., Harrison, M.B. (2001). The impacts of distance to hospital on families with a child with a chronic condition. Social Science and Medicine. 52, 1777-1791.


Yantzi, N.M. & Skinnner, M.W. (forthcoming). Providers of care in the home: Sustainable partners in primary health care?, in V. Crooks and G. Andrews (eds), Primary Health Care: People, Practice, Place (Ashgate)


Yantzi, N.M. & Skinner, M.W. (in press). Care and Caregiving, in R. Kitchin and N. Thrift (eds), International Encyclopedia of Human Geography. (Elsevier)


Dr. ##mlariviere##

Larivière MA., & Sidney K. The Relaxation Effect of Exercise: Implications for Childhood Fears and Anxieties.Canadian Association for Health, Physical Education and Recreation Journal 1992, 58, 1, 16-22.



Child Health Measures developed by ECHO members

The Activities Scale for Kids (ASK):  see www.ActivitiesScaleForKids.com


The Canadian Haemophilia Outcomes – Kids’ Life Assessment Tools (CHO-KLAT): contact: victor.blanchette@sickkids.ca


The Kids ITP Tool (KIT):  contact rklaassen@cheo.on.ca


The Children's Assessment of Participation and Enjoyment (CAPE) and the Preferences for Activities of Children (PAC):  see www.canchild.ca/en/measures/capepac.asp


Health Promotion Materials developed by ECHO members

Ritchie SD, Wabano MJ, Enosse L, Young NLWikwemikong Outdoor Adventure Leadership Experience: Program Manual and Facilitator Guide (3rd Edition).  Wikwemikong, ON: Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve Number 26:  2011. Note: Training manual prepared for Wikwemikong community. (50 pages).


Ritchie SD, Wabano MJ, Enosse L, Young NL Wikwemikong Outdoor Adventure Leadership Experience: Program Summary.  Wikwemikong, ON: Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve Number 26. 2011.  Note: Program Information booklet prepared for Wikwemikong community. (16 pages).


Young NL, Burke T, Coe D, Green T. Health Promotion Booklet: Enabling Yourself – A guide to getting active designed for persons with cerebral palsy and spina bifidaLaurentian University, 2007.


Video Links

On-Line Training Package:  Ritchie SD & Wabano MJ. The Wikwemikong Outdoor Adventure Leadership Experience. In Canadian Institute for Health Information: Exploring Positive Mental Health (eLearning course module). Ottawa, ON: Canadian Institute for Health Information: 2011. Available from https://learning.cihi.ca.


Film:  Cheu H (Director), Ritchie SD, Wabano MJ, & Enosse L. (Producers). The Journey Home: The Wikwemikong Outdoor Adventure Leadership Experience [Documentary film - 12 minutes].  Laurentian University Film Studio. Sudbury, ON: 2010.  Available for viewing at www.oalevideo.laurentian.ca.


Film:  "Holistic Arts-Based Group Work with Children" produced by Hoi Cheu & The centre for humanities research and creativity. Available for viewing at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yc8Qrfu3tUQ .  The film also contains a manual of exercises that can be downloaded from: http://www.dianacoholic.com/

[tab title="Researchers"]

Dr. ##nyoung## (Director)

Nancy Young is the director of the ECHO research project and has led the research group since its inception in 2006. As a Clinical Epidemiologist and Physiotherapist with 21 years of research experience focusing on children's health, her knowledge is of great value to the team.  She has previous experience as the Interim Director for the School of Rural and Northern Health, and is currently a Professor in the School of Rural and Northern Health.  She holds a Canada Research Chair in Rural and Northern Health.

Her particular interest is in improving the health of school-aged children and youth in rural and northern communities, including Aboriginal children and youth.  She currently holds one CIHR grant and has another larger CIHR grant under review in this field.  

Her primary appointment is complemented by cross appointments as an Adjunct Scientist at the Hospital for Sick Children’s Research Institute, Adjunct Scientist at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, and Associate Professor of Paediatrics at the University of Toronto.  These institutions are central to her child health research program.

Her research spans different clinical domains and uses a variety of research methods including both quantitative and qualitative methods.  Her expertise in development, validation and cross-cultural adaptation of health outcome measures has enabled her to make important contribution to clinical research around the world.

Her greatest achievement is that her research has enabled clinicians and scientists to view health through the eyes of children and youth.

Her research is supported by funding from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research as well as industry partners.


Dr. ##dcoholic## (Core Member)

Diana Coholic is an Associate Professor in the School of Social Work at Laurentian University, where she teaches practice theory and methods in the undergraduate and graduate programs.  Her current research program is investigating the effectiveness of holistic arts-based group methods for the improvement of resilience in children and youth with high needs – this research is in collaboration with the Children’s Aid Society of the Districts of Sudbury and Manitoulin, and the Child and Family Centre, and is funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and the Sick Kids Foundation.

Mindfulness-based practices are an important part of the group program. Along with her research team, she creatively disseminates the results of the research. They facilitate annual training workshops for community-based practitioners, and helped to produce a 20-minute instructional film for practitioners, which is available free of charge. Last year, Jessica Kingsley Publishers published her book Arts Activities for Children and Young People in Need: Helping children to develop mindfulness, spiritual awareness and self-esteem. She recently published an article on arts-based methods with children in need that was the most downloaded article in 2009-2010.Information can be found on her research website: www.Diana Coholic.com.


Dr. ##agauthier## (Core Member)

Alain Gauthier is an Assistant Professor in the School of Human Kinetics.  Alain was the first graduate from the Interdisciplinary PhD Program in Rural and Northern Health, and was supported by a CIHR doctoral research award.  His thesis focused on the physical activity patterns of the Francophone population in Northeastern Ontario. Since the completion of his doctoral degree, Alain has been actively developing his research program.

He is currently pursuing 2 streams of research; Francophone health services research, and the promotion of physical activity to vulnerable populations (e.g., smokers and children).  Alain currently holds 2 Louise Picard Health Research Grants which are serving as catalysts to develop research proposals for larger Tri-Council grants. As a result of these seed grants, he has developed strong ties with the Sudbury & District Health Unit, as well as local school boards which will be key community partners for ECHO.

Alain has first authored a key paper detailing a framework for the evaluation of child health.  The paper was published in Child Indicators Research in 2011.  He is currently co-leading a research team that is evaluating the health effects of differing timetables used in the Ontario public school system.  Results from first phase of this project have drawn significant attention from the academic community, school administrators, and parents.


Dr. ##slarocque## (Core Member)

Sylvie Larocque is an Associate Professor in the School of Nursing.  Her clinical expertise is in paediatrics (care of children and their family).  Her research interests are: the impact of chronic illness on children and their families, family centered care, career plans of nursing graduates, and educational and health issues involving Francophone populations in Northern and Rural communities.  For her doctoral and master’s work she looked at the experience of adolescents living with a sibling who has Cystic Fibrosis.  She has several related publications.


Professor ##sritchie## (Core Member)

Stephen Ritchie is an Assistant Professor in the School of Human Kinetics and a Doctoral Candidate in the School of Rural and Northern Health.  His research career began in earnest in 2006, when he was a co-investigator on a SSHRC funded project examining youth participation in sport.  This early work led to his doctoral work, commencing in 2008, which is dedicated to developing, implementing and evaluating an Outdoor Adventure Leadership Experience (OALE) designed to promote resilience and well-being for First Nations youth in Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve.

His thesis research is supervised by Nancy Young, and his doctoral experiences led to an invitation to join his supervisor on several other projects related to creating child-centric health measures for Aboriginal communities across Canada.  Stephen’s OALE work has been very successful.  The program is well established in the community (Wikwemikong), and both qualitative and quantitative results support the program’s efficacy.

Stephen has also worked in the outdoor field for over 25 years as a guide, teacher, facilitator and more recently as professor and program coordinator.  Much of that experience includes work with children and youth.  Stephen’s research interests are devoted to understanding outdoor adventure and experiential education programs in the context of achieving personal growth and health outcomes; the primary population of interest is children and youth.


Dr. ##aroycharland## (Core Member)

Annie Roy-Charland is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology.  Annie’s research interests include:  eye movement research, missing-letter effect, shared book reading between parents and children, selective attention and implicit cognitions.  The novelty of her research is using physical measures to explore cognitive processes in children and adults. She is an NSERC grantee and is the Principal Investigator in a CFI grant.  She recently submitted a CIHR operating grant as a Co-Applicant.  Annie has several relevant publications in this area.


Dr. ##nyantzi## (Core Member)

Nicole Yantzi is an Associate Professor in the Department of Environmental Studies. Her research focuses on the daily environments of children with disabilities and their families. One part of this research program examines the physical, policy and service barriers that children and their families experience.  The other part examines these barriers and challenges to full participation by including children with disabilities as active research participants.

Nicole was a co-primary investigator on a grant to develop and evaluate tools to measure school accessibility.  As part of this Nicole led the development of a School Accessibility Tool (the SAT) which has been endorsed by a local disabled children’s group from the Independence Centre and Network (ICAN).  She is a co-investigator on a Canadian Institutes of Health research grant designed to have children with physical disabilities evaluate and assess the accessibility and inclusiveness of their schools, homes and neighbourhoods.  She was also a co-investigator on a Norman Saunders Complex Care grant (SickKids Hospital) examining the migration patterns of families of children with chronic complex conditions.  Her work is published in the journals Social Science and Medicine, Health and Social Care in the Community, Gender, Place and Culture and Children’s Geographies.

She actively works with children with disabilities, parents, service providers and municipal government staff to improve the inclusiveness of children’s everyday environments.


Dr. ##mlariviere## (Non-Core Member)

Michel Larivière is an Associate Professor in the School of Human Kinetics. He is also a licensed clinical Psychologist.  His research has focused on salient health issues including high-risk health behaviours (e.g. self-injury, substance abuse, high-risk sexual activity) in vulnerable populations such as Aboriginals, inmates, and visible minorities.  Building on these efforts, he has been studying the determinants of mental health in the workplace and has published results from large-scale surveys of Canadian human service workers.