Student Research Assistant, Data Analyst
Primary Purpose: The Department of Community Health and Epidemiology at the University of Saskatchewan invites applications for a half-time position as a Student Research Assistant to work on a College of Medicine funded project, Mortality in Canada’s Neighbourhoods and Rural Communities Before and After the Pandemic.
Nature of Work: The primary responsibilities of the Student Research Assistant will be to support work on accessing, processing, and analyzing the primary databases that will be used to complete the project including: the Canadian Vital Death Statistics Database (CVSD), Discharge Abstract Database (DAD), National Ambulatory Care Reporting System (NACRS) and the Canadian Census of Population. Prior experience working with big data and leading statistical software, including, but not limited to, Stata, R, and/or SAS, and/or working in secure research environments, like Statistics Canada’s Research Data Centres (RDC), will be an enormous asset. Statistical modelling, data tabulation, and data visualization experience will also be valued.
The Study: The COVID-19 pandemic has underlined the critical role that vital statistics can have in shaping public perceptions, opinions, and actions. Indicators that are derived from vital statistics—including: death rates, life expectancy, and excess mortality—are readily understood by both the public and leading decision makers. The pandemic has also accelerated access to vital statistics by Canadian researchers. For the first time, through Statistics Canada’s Research Data Centers (RDC), researchers across the country are able to directly access both historical vital statistics micro-series dating back decades and the latest provisional releases as they are collected and updated on a monthly basis. This new level of access has been critical for researchers to be able to begin to accurately report on the full direct and indirect impacts of COVID-19 on mortality and also presents new opportunities for understanding its primary drivers generally. Much preparatory work, including the finalization of key methods, is still needed to fully capitalize on these developments. For instance, the latest reports on excess death due to COVID-19 only report results at the federal level when most health decision making in Canada is done at provincial levels or lower. Relatedly, even though methods have been developed to estimate life expectancy at levels as low as the neighbourhood level, this work has never been carried out in a systematic and comparable fashion throughout Canada as a whole. The primary objectives of this project will be to: a) identify and finalize methods to advance descriptive research on population health using vital statistics at the local level in Canada; b) generate and disseminate estimates of leading mortality indicators, including life expectancy and premature mortality, for neighbourhoods and rural communities across Canada. This work will also include examining recent trends in excess COVID-related mortality in Saskatchewan, which recent news reporting suggest may be underreported.