Clinical Research Units

Intercultural Pediatrics Unit (UPI)

Unit Presentation

Pediatrics, Culture and Society: Where Expert and Lay Knowledge, Know-How and Self-Management Skills Intertwine

Our program “Pediatrics, Culture and Society: Where expert and lay knowledge, know-how and self-management skills intertwine” examines contemporary pediatric medical practice within hospitals from a multidisciplinary point of view and links it to the diversity of this setting. As an urban portal, the CHU Sainte-Justine is in constant contact with the dynamics of a multicultural city. The social relations that exist in local society cut right across clinical settings in which a number of ethical issues must be faced that are associated with advances in medical technology, diverse norms and values and a social, cultural and religious “otherness.” Our central hypothesis is that disease, treatment and biomedical management are dynamically intertwined. This relation often focuses on the individual and the biological body to the detriment of social and cultural considerations. The cultural universe in all its diversity reflects social relationships that have been built up through migration, social paths in local society, family structures and individual resources. Technological breakthroughs and the development of novel therapies alter the clinical context. Consequently, clinicians must deal daily with the exigencies of increasingly complex scientific and relational (considering individual patients and their families) knowledge frameworks essential for therapeutic relationships. Our program relates to this intersection where health practices and a changing society meet and where, as with society locally and elsewhere, social relationships, social relations (ethnic, class, professional) and a central public (and political) issue simultaneously emerge. As a result of the advances being made as well as structural issues and a rapidly changing society, cutting-edge medicine now faces unparalleled scientific, relational and ethical challenges.

Research projects

Within a framework of interdisciplinary collaboration (anthropology, medical ethics, nursing care), our program encompasses three complementary lines of research that guide our work:

Axis 1

The Study of Contemporary Clinical Practices in Hospital Settings.


  1. The diversity of standards and values that cut across clinical practice (caregivers/care receivers);
  2. Medical advances pediatric practices in hospital settings (fragmentation of knowledge – increased specializations) and associated ethical issues.

Current Research Projects

  1. Comparative study (Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver) of pediatric clinical practices in a pluralistic hospital setting (CIHR 05-11);
  2. Multicenter research (hospital/local community service center - CLSC) on access to perinatal health services by recent immigrant families of Muslim origin (CIHR 07-11).

Axis 2

Population Diversity and Health Issues


  1. Social, cultural and religious pluralism;
  2. Family structures, social paths, migration trajectories;
  3. Representations of health/illness, caregivers, care receivers/families (local and global perspectives);
  4. Perinatality and health: localities here and abroad;
  5. Sign, meaning and action systems.

Current Research Projects

  1. Comparative study of intestinal function disorders in children from various ethnic groups and socio-cultural factors of protection and vulnerability as they relate to these disorders (FRSQ 08-11);
  2. Transmission of perinatality knowledge to new mothers of Muslim origin (IRSC 07-11);
  3. Anthropological knowledge and its circulation among clinicians who work with immigrant children (CIHR 08-11);
  4. Representations and practices in terms of transfusions and blood donations (internal funding).

Axis 3

Training, Application of Knowledge and Reflexivity in Clinicians


  1. Cultural, religious and social pluralism;
  2. Norms, values and therapeutic relationships;
  3. Clinical ethics.

Activities (and Research Projects) in Progress and To Be Developed

The program includes continued education and training activities in “health and society,” i.e., workshops, roundtables, debates, discussions about research findings, thematic seminars and ad hoc “intercultural” consultations for the caregivers. These activities promote the articulation of the anthropological, ethical, clinical and research expertise of our clinical practice group. Didactic tools are developed for pediatric residents and medical students to reflect the diversity of the population through representative clinical vignettes of problem situations in clinical settings and through the reflective effect of research conducted within the teams that have been set up and the area of study.

Knowledge Transfer Plan

Beyond the usual activities involved in knowledge transfer (publications and scientific communications), we are engaged in an important program of structuring activities in the practice setting (Third Line of Research) and student training. Our students benefit from the team’s multidisciplinary framework (anthropology-medicine co-direction) and are very involved in resident training programs as well as generally augmenting the team’s profile (seven publications in common). Active participation in funded research, as trainees, interns or fellows, represents another important aspect of their training. As for the structuring activities, the teams set up for these various studies encompass social and health disciplines and present numerous occasions to apply knowledge within participating and partner settings. The research process and continued training program promote an appropriation and negotiation of fundamental and applied knowledge. We support the co-publication of articles and collective works geared toward the public at large. We are associated with the Réseau mère-enfant de la Francophonie, a French-language mother-child network, and have developed collaborative ties with local and international institutions.


Françoise Romaine Ouellette
Hani Guend

Toronto’s Sick Kids Hospital
Anne Marie Guergerian
Ute Bartels
Vera Nenadovic

BC’s Children’s Hospital
David Dix
David Wensley
Cindy Stutzer
Rosella Jefferson

Programme de regroupement 2009-2012
Fonds de recherche en santé du Québec (FRSQ - volet santé-société)

Membership and collaboration

Other FRQS Member
Franco Carnevale
(Université McGill)

Other Member
France Dupuis
(Université de Montréal)

CHU Sainte-Justine Collaborators
Christophe Faure
Michel Duval
Andrée Rasquin
Gilles Chabot
Jacques Lacroix
France Gauvin
François Audibert
Marc Girard
Sanja Stojanovic

About this page
Updated on 7/7/2023
Created on 8/8/2014
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