Dr. Monica Bienefeld is the director of Knowledge Transfer and Exchange and an associate scientist at the Institute for Work & Health. She is also an assistant professor (part-time) in the Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence and Impacts in the Faculty of Health Sciences at McMaster University.
After more than 15 years of professional public health practice and knowledge user experience, most recently with the Population and Public Health Division of Ontario’s Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, Bienefeld joined the Institute in 2017. In her previous roles, she focused on the application of research and analytical methodologies to provide evidence in support of the development, implementation and evaluation of public health policies and programs. She has collaborated on research studies, providing a decision-maker perspective to guide research questions and study design, and has supported the use of scientific evidence in policy decisions by facilitating senior officials’ understanding of research results and implications.
Bienefeld’s professional interests revolve around the assessment and communication of quality in public health scientific research; the use, and documentation of use, of evidence in public policy development and decision-making; and equity considerations in public policy—e.g. the potential for differential impacts of environmental health policies and by-laws on specific populations. She is particularly interested in system-level and contextual factors and their effects on both individual and population outcomes.
Bienefeld earned a PhD in epidemiology from the University of Toronto and an MSc in community health and epidemiology from Queen’s University. Both her doctoral and master’s dissertations examined health outcomes in relation to occupational exposures.
“I’m always looking for ways to facilitate better decisions. You can only make good decisions when you understand the issues, the context—including values and priorities—and the evidence. The people in the best position to define the issues and pose the questions are those involved in the decision-making process and those affected by the decisions. Good scientific practice requires the researcher to understand the issues and context and to design studies that will answer relevant questions to provide the evidence needed.