SREMI Researcher Profile

Dr. Aaron Orkin

Dr. Aaron Orkin is a SREMI fellow and doctoral student in Clinical Epidemiology and Health Care Research at the University of Toronto. Dr. Orkin’s research focuses on involving laypeople in the delivery of essential and emergency health care services, especially among vulnerable and under served populations. Dr. Orkin uses community based and collaborative strategies that involve patients in every step of the research process.

Opioid overdose is now a global crisis, and among the leading causes of accidental death in Ontario. People dealing with drug - related emergencies can face barriers that distance them from emergency services, with tragic and often fatal results. In partnership with researchers at St. Michael’s Hospital and OCAD University, Dr. Orkin leads the Surviving Opioid Overdose with Naloxone Education and Resuscitation (SOONER) Project, a CIHR-funded design initiative and randomized trial. In 2017, the SOONER investigators spearheaded a new design and training tool for naloxone kits, and designed a feasibility trial to assess whether people who are likely to witness overdose can be recruited into a randomized trial. With a variety of other health care and community partners — including public health agencies, family practices, and addictions clinics — the SOONER trial positions emergency medicine and emergency research as leading disciplines in addressing the opioid crisis. In partnership with Toronto Public Health, Dr. Orkin is also working to enhance and evaluate emergency care education in supervised injection sites.

In 2017 Dr. Orkin launched two reviews on engaging laypeople in health care delivery. The first review will describe the health equity effects of involving lay providers in health care services. The second is a large systematic review on the health effects of first aid and lay responder initiatives, especially among vulnerable and under served populations. Findings from these reviews are already informing the development of new programs to enhance access to emergency care in low-resource settings and among marginalized populations.

Dr. Orkin’s research is reshaping how laypeople respond to everyday emergencies, enhancing the way emergency providers engage with vulnerable communities, and activating the public to respond to complex community health problems. His work is supported by a Fellowship Award from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the University of Toronto Department of Family and Community Medicine, and the Schwartz/Reisman Emergency Medicine Institute.

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