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Open Access Research article

An epistemic community comes and goes? Local and national expressions of heart health promotion in Canada

John Eyles1*, Kerry Robinson2 and Susan Elliott1

Author Affiliations

1 School of Geography and Earth Sciences, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

2 Public Health Agency of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

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BMC Health Services Research 2009, 9:35  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-9-35

Published: 23 February 2009



The objective of this study is to examine the existence and shape of epistemic communities for (heart) health promotion at the international, national, provincial and regional levels in Canada. Epistemic community may be defined as a network of experts with an authoritative claim to policy relevant knowledge in their area of expertise.


An interpretive policy analysis was employed using 60 documents (48 provincial, 8 national and 4 international) and 66 interviews (from 5 Canadian provinces). These data were entered into NUD*IST, a qualitative software analysis package, to assist in the development of codes and themes. These codes form the basis of the results.


A scientific and policy epistemic community was identified at the international and Canadian federal levels. Provincially and regionally, the community is present as an idea but its implementation varies between jurisdictions.


The importance of economic, political and cultural factors shapes the presence and shape of the epistemic community in different jurisdictions. The community waxes and wanes but appears robust.