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Research & Surveys

Research helps us shape our services to meet your needs.

In most cases the research conducted by the health unit is available to other health professionals or members of the general public who are conducting their own research into public health issues.

Some current research efforts follow.

Naturalized outdoor playgrounds

School ground greening, also referred to as naturalization, is a growing international movement. It involves transforming hard, barren expanses of turf and asphalt into places that include a diversity of natural and built elements. This rapid evidence review explores how school ground greening impacts the health of elementary school students--particularly from a play and physical activity perspective. Additional child health and development benefits are identified along with recommendations and resources for schools.

Report Highlights here.

The Built Environment and Health

This report was compiled in 2007 to help the health unit take its first steps in leading communities toward creation of resources that benefit the general public's health. 


Understanding the health issues, attitudes and behaviours of Simcoe Muskoka residents is critical to planning effective public health programs and services. Community surveys are one way of gathering this information. The health unit is currently engaged in the following surveys to measure the impact of our programs in the short term and to track changes in the health of Simcoe Muskoka residents over time.

SMDHU Northern and Southern Area Assessments

Between 2013 and 2017 needs assessments were completed of the health unit’s Northern Service Area (NSA) covering the District of Muskoka and the South Simcoe Service Area as part of ongoing health unit infrastructure planning. The purpose of the assessments was to identify the need for public health presence and to provide information for decision-making regarding effective and efficient delivery of public health services to the community.

As part of the assessment a survey of residents of the District of Muskoka (in 2015) and South Simcoe (in 2016) on the awareness, use and access of services provided by the health unit was completed by Statistics Canada’s Survey Skills Development Course. While the primary purpose of the assessments were to inform current and future infrastructure planning and allocation of infrastructure resources, the information may be used to inform strategic planning and public health programming. Summaries of the surveys are linked below, both in a written report and an infographic format.

Gestational Weight Gain Survey Report

In 2009, the Institute of Medicine identified a link between excessive weight gain during pregnancy and adverse birth and maternal outcomes. The health unit conducted its own Food and Exercise in Pregnancy Survey to inform the development of a comprehensive health promotion plan related to healthy weight gain during pregnancy. Results of the survey were published in April, 2012.

Executive summary of the Gestational Weight Gain Survey Report

Full survey report

Rapid Risk Factor Surveillance Surveys

Each month, local residents are randomly called in a telephone survey to collect information about lifestyle behaviors that may impact their health and the health of their families.

More about Rapid Risk Factor Surveys  

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