Our Research Themes

Genomics and precision medicine are being increasingly integrated into clinical practice. These technologies may lead to better diagnostic accuracy, earlier referral to appropriate treatment interventions and a better treatment response based on targeted use of drugs and other interventions. However, new generations of sequencing technologies are costly and can produce additional findings that result in further downstream healthcare costs. It is not yet clear whether such technologies are cost-effective or where they should be positioned in a diagnostic pathway to maximize value for money. TASK force members are working to generate evidence regarding economic value, including social and ethical considerations to inform implementation.

Cost-effectiveness of whole genome sequencing in paediatric cardiomyopathy

  • Prospective study led by Drs. Wendy Ungar and Robin Hayeems on clinical utility and cost-effectiveness of whole genome sequencing for children with cardiomyopathy. In progress.

The clinical and personal utility of genomic testing

  • Prospective study led by Drs. Robin Hayeems and Wendy Ungar to develop and validate psychometric tools to quantify the clinical and personal utility of genetic tests. In Progress.

The use of discrete event simulation to assess the cost-effectiveness of alternative genome-based diagnostic strategies in autism spectrum disorder

Cost item identification, measurement and valuation of whole genome sequencing compared to clinical microarray in a centralized paediatric Genome Clinic

A cost-effectiveness analysis of maternal genotyping to guide treatment for postpartum pain and avert infant adverse events

Cost-effectiveness analysis of thiopurine methyltransferase genotype testing

Children with neurodevelopment disorders (NDDs) and their families face life-long challenges and require extensive ongoing educational, health and social service support. The severity and high prevalence of NDDs place a high economic burden on parents and public service systems. It is crucial to understand which programs, treatments and services provide the best value for money. The TASK team is involved in a number of projects in the area of paediatric NDDs, collecting cost data and evaluating cost-effectiveness of existing and novel interventions.

Cost-effectiveness and value of alternative clinical screening and assessment approaches in autism spectrum disorder   

The Pre-School Autism Treatment Impact (PATI) Study: A population-based comparative effectiveness and cost-effectiveness study of intervention models for preschoolers with autistic spectrum disorders

  • A multi-disciplinary and multi-site prospective study, where TASK is leading a cost-effectiveness analysis of the New Brunswick and Nova Scotia early intensive behavioural programs for preschoolers with autism spectrum disorder. In progress.
  • Ungar WJ, Tsiplova K, Millar N, Smith IM. Development of the Resource Use Questionnaire (RUQ-P) for families with preschool children with neurodevelopmental disorders: Validation in children with autism spectrum disorder. Clinical Practice in Pediatric Psychology, 2018. DOI: 10.1037/cpp0000226.

PACE (Parent And Child Early) Coaching Project

  • As part of a collaborative multi-disciplinary PACE Coaching Project, TASK is leading a cost effectiveness analysis comparing parent coaching to services ordinarily available to toddlers at risk for autism spectrum disorder in British Columbia. In progress.

The Pathways in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) cohort study

Health Economics Evaluation Platform within CHILD-BRIGHT

  • Dr. Ungar is leading economic evaluations of interventions being studied by researchers within the CHILD-BRIGHT Network, a pan-Canadian research network examining interventions to optimize the health of Canadian children born with brain-based disorders. In progress.

Other projects

Health technology assessment (HTA) provides evidence for informed decision making in health policy. As part of its HTA activities, TASK informs policies in child health. TASK also conducts research specifically in the area of public health and pharmaceutical policy. For example, the TASK team has examined gaps in prescription drug coverage for paediatric drugs and is examining the value of pharmacogenomics testing.

TASK’s projects in health economic methods include patient preferences research; development and assessment of instruments to measure resource use, costs or quality of life; reviews of economic evaluation methods; and the use and applicability of the PEDE database and other economic evaluation databases for decision-making.

Caregiver effects

Health economic methods

  • Ungar WJ, Zur RM. Costs and consequences: An introduction to economic evaluation in radiology. In Doria AS, Tomlinson G, Beyene J and Moineddin R (Eds) Research Methods in Radiology. New York: Thieme Medical Publishers Inc., 2017.
  • Zlotnik Shaul R, Ungar WJ. Maximizing the benefit and mitigating the risks of moral hazard. American Journal of Bioethics. 2016; 16(7):44-6.
  • Ungar WJ, Prosser LA, Burnett H. Values and evidence colliding: Health technology assessment in child health. Expert Review of Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research. 2013; 13(4):417-419.
  • Ungar WJ (Editor). Economic Evaluation in Child Health. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010.
  • Ungar WJ. Paediatric health economic evaluations: A world view. Healthcare Quarterly -World Health & Population. 2006; 8(4): 89-101.
  • Ungar WJ, Ariely R. Health insurance, access to prescription medicines and health outcomes in children. Expert Review of Pharmacoeconomics & Outcomes Research, 5(2):215-225, 2005.
  • Ungar WJ, Santos MT. Quality appraisal of pediatric health economic evaluations. International Journal of Technology Assessment and Health Care. 2005; 21(2):203-210.
  • Ungar WJ, Witkos M. Public drug plan coverage for children across Canada: A portrait of too many colours. Healthcare Policy. 2005; 1(1):100-122.
  • Ungar W.  Bias – it’s everywhere! A commentary on the impact of bias and the assessment of agreement in the measurement of medication use in epidemiology research. Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety. 1998; 7:425-427.
  • Ungar W. The choice of pharmacoeconomic study design during drug development, Part 1. Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety. 1997; 6: 391-397.
  • Ungar W. The choice of pharmacoeconomic study design during drug development, Part 2. Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety. 1997; 6(6): 399-407.
  • Ungar W. Good Clinical Practices: Principles and application of the European Community note for guidance. Drug Information Journal. 1994; 28:339-348.

Instrument and tool development

Quality of life and utility research

Preferences and preference elicitation techniques

Systematic reviews

Trends in evidence

TASK performs systematic reviews, cost-effectiveness analyses and methods research in the area of respiratory conditions, including asthma and bronchiolitis.

Juvenile idiopathic arthritis research conducted at TASK includes assessing patient preferences for drug treatment and cost effectiveness of biologic response modifiers.

TASK conducts cost-effectiveness analysis of paediatric health interventions and devices in the fields of infectious disease, appendicitis, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, oncology and surgical interventions.

Infectious diseases

Appendicitis

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder

Oncology

Surgical interventions

TASK conducts research on chronic paediatric conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease and Crohn’s disease, among others.