Dr. Nathaniel Bell has spent the last several years researching trauma and trauma outcomes. After completing a three-year Canadian Institutes of Health Research Fellowship in Trauma Outcomes at the University of British Columbia (Surgery), he landed here as an Assistant Professor in the College of Nursing. His research encompasses social epidemiology, geographic information science, and injury, and draws heavily from linked administrative datasets and spatial informatics to explore why some populations are healthier than others.
Although most individuals survive due to advances in trauma care, survival often brings new challenges such as impaired functioning, limited activities, reduced participation, and a significant amount of stress and depression. Yet most evaluations of how well our health care system performs in providing care rely on outcomes of acute care, providing limited information about the ultimate results of care for injured patients. Fewer than half of all level-I and level-II trauma centers collect functional outcome information on their patients – and no center routinely collects information relevant to disability after discharge. Does follow-up help us identify persons who are at a high risk for a poor recovery? What is the number or type of services that best prepare individuals to reintegrate back into work and society? What type of social and physical environments lead to good recovery? Are hospitals that provide the best life-saving care also those that provide their patients with the best roadmap for recovery? The goal of Dr. Bell’s research is to shed light on these questions. The answers may inform our perspectives on how we evaluate and provide trauma care and, potentially, radically change the nature of how trauma registries are used for injury prevention and control.