Wendy Ungar

wendy.ungar[at]sickkids.ca

Wendy Ungar M.Sc., PhD is a Senior Scientist in Child Health Evaluative Sciences at The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Canada, an Associate Professor in Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, University of Toronto, and an Adjunct Scientist at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences. Dr. Ungar is the University of Toronto Program Director for the International Masters in Health Technology Assessment & Management (Ulysses program) and has held a Canadian Institutes of Health Research New Investigator career award.
Why do health care costs keep rising? How can we continue to afford it? Is all this new technology in health care actually making us healthier? These are some of the questions that Dr. Ungar and her team address in her program of research investigating the application of health economic methods to the paediatric population.
Dr. Ungar also studies the relationship between policies governing access to prescription medicines and health outcomes in children. In 2007, Dr. Ungar started TASK (Technology Assessment at SickKids), a Health Technology Assessment (HTA) unit focusing on technology assessment of paediatric health interventions. Dr. Ungar and her research team created and maintain the PEDE database, a popular on-line health technology assessment tool for examining health economic evidence in children.

Research Interests

  • Paediatric economic evaluation methods research
  • Pharmaceutical policy and health outcomes in children with asthma
  • Economic burden of chronic paediatric conditions
  • Cost-effectiveness of interventions and programs for children
  • Parent and child preferences for treatment attributes

Research Activities

Measurement of quality of life and preferences for health states (utility) poses a number of challenges in children. Current research is examining novel approaches to utility and quality of life assessment for incorporation in cost-utility analysis and clinical research.
Through detailed health technology assessments, additional research is exploring the cost-effectiveness of treatments in maternal and child health, including biologics for juvenile idiopathic arthritis, genotyping to guide therapy in children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, CYP2D6 testing to guide postnatal pain management in lactating women and teratogen counseling in pregnant women requiring anti-depressants. These evaluations can be used for informing health policy and allocation decision-making.
The provision of medications is a major component of health care not universally covered by provincial health programs. Payment for medications can impose a significant financial burden on the families of children with acute or chronic diseases requiring medical treatment. A current avenue of research focuses on the health consequences in children with asthma of policies governing access to medications.

Future Research Interests
Future research will study the use of stated preference techniques, including discrete choice experiments, to evaluate parent, child and family preferences with regard to treatment choice, health states and willingness-to-pay. Understanding the inter-dependent relationship among family members with regard to quality-of-life and the use of and payment for health care services is critical for designing health care policies that are responsive to the needs of children and families. Additional studies will compare the stated preferences of families to asthma health care providers to improve the design of clinical practice guidelines and asthma education programs.

http://pede.ccb.sickkids.ca/pede/index.jsp
http://www.sickkids.ca/Research/TASK/index.html

Current Projects: