SBNH Research Awarded $2 Million-Dollar Grant

SSHRC, CIHR and partners invest in five-year multi-site project aimed at improving healthcare work environments through the Strengths-Based Nursing and Healthcare approach

In summer of 2018, Dr. Laurie Gottlieb was awarded a major partnership grant involving the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada ­­­­­(SSHRC), Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), and additional partners’ joint investment of over $2 million in a groundbreaking research project entitled Transforming Nurses’ Work Environments Through a Strengths-Based Leadership and Management Training Program.  

The project addresses nurses’ and all health-care professionals’ workplace wellbeing, focusing on improving workforce health and productivity for better care and better patient outcomes. “Nurses provide 90% of healthcare services in the world,” says Gottlieb. “Nurses need healthy work environments to be at their best in order to provide the highest quality person-centered care for individuals, families and communities.”

The five-year investment is the first partnership grant in McGill’s history to be led by a Project Director based in the Faculty of Medicine, and counts ten co-investigators, six collaborators, and eight institutional partners from academic, not-for-profit, and hospital backgrounds.

At its core, this research is centered on Strengths-Based Nursing and Healthcare (SBNH), a philosophy and value driven-approach developed by Dr. Gottlieb. SBNH enhances, develops, and works with people’s existing and potential strengths to bring out the best in the person, and to contain, minimize, and/or circumvent what is not working. The project aims to empower and provide agency to healthcare workers via a Strengths-Based approach, enabling them to access the full scope of their competencies to ultimately provide the best care possible.

To that end, the main objective of this project is to re-train clinical managers and leaders to work through a strengths-based lens, to build communities of caring, and create safe workplaces for nurses and all healthcare workers. The grant will fund the development of a Strengths-Based Nursing and Healthcare Leadership and Management Training Program for clinical leaders and managers, and will comprise three components:

  1. The creation and use of innovative, multi-media teaching materials for story-sharing and sharing circles;
  2. The refinement of a 12-module course that integrates the best practice of healthcare with a SB-N/C approach paying attention to sex and gender issues in the workplace;
  3. The development of mentorship with situated coaching to ensure implementation and sustainability.

“Public and media narratives can sometimes focus on negatives in healthcare and for nurses, but this grant represents a powerful endorsement of the nursing profession,” says Dr. Gottlieb. “We know there is a serious problem, with nurses reporting dissatisfaction with their work environments to the degree that they want to leave the profession. The goal of our research is to create a paradigm shift from the current deficit-based management model to a strengths-based approach, to help create healthier working environments for nurses and healthcare workers, and to create better patient outcomes as a result.”

Processes and impacts of the research program will be evaluated via clinical leaders and managers, point-of-care nurses, and quality of patient and family care.

Partnership Institutions:

  • McGill University, Montreal, QC (Host Institution)
  • Canadian Nurses Association, Ottawa, ON
  • Centre intégré universitaire de santé et de services sociaux de l'Ouest-de-l'Île-de-Montréal, Montréal, QC
  • Centre intégré universitaire de santé et de services sociaux du Centre-Ouest-de-l'Île-de-Montréal, Montréal, QC
  • Concordia University, Montréal, QC
  • Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, Toronto, ON
  • McGill University Health Centre, Montréal, QC
  • SickKids, Toronto, ON


  • Laurie Gottlieb, McGill University (Project Director)
  • Marilyn Ballantyne, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital
  • Alain Biron, McGill University Health Centre
  • Kathleen Boies, Concordia University
  • Christina Clausen, Jewish General Hospital
  • Bruce Gottlieb, McGill University
  • Steven High, Concordia University
  • Pamela Hubley, SickKids
  • Mélanie Lavoie-Tremblay, McGill University
  • Joanna Anneke Rummens, Ryerson University
  • Mike Villeneuve, Canadian Nurses Association


  • Annie Chevrier, McGill University
  • Beverley-Tracey John, Centre intégré universitaire de santé et de services sociaux de l'Ouest-de-l'Île-de-Montréal
  • Sylvie Lambert, McGill University
  • Renée Proulx, Centre intégré universitaire de santé et de services sociaux de l'Ouest-de-l'Île-de-Montréal
  • Marie-Claire Richer, Centre intégré universitaire de santé et de services sociaux de l'Ouest-de-l'Île-de-Montréal
  • Karen Spalding, Ryerson University
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