Ginetta Salvalaggio


Ginetta Salvalaggio MD MSC CCFP (AM) is an Associate Professor with the University of Alberta Department of Family Medicine, and the Associate Scientific Director of the Inner City Health and Wellness Program ( She received her degree in Medicine from the University of Alberta and completed a family practice residency in Thunder Bay, Ontario.  Initially practicing as a rural locum, she eventually returned to Edmonton to establish a maternity care and family practice. Dr. Salvalaggio joined the Department of Family Medicine in 2007. She has also completed a Masters of Science in Population Health through the University of Alberta School of Public Health. Her academic interests are focused on social accountability, patient and community engagement, and health services for urban underserved populations.

Node Funded Project (January 2021)

Title: Impact of Health System Engagement on the Health and Well-Being of People Who Use Drugs: A Realist Review

Principal Investigator: Ginetta Salvalaggio, University of Alberta


Dr. Elaine Hyshka, Dr. Lara Nixon, Dr. Sandy Campbell, Dr. Jane Springett and Dr. Heather Morris


Meaningful engagement with people who use illegal drugs (PWUD) in health systems planning and applied scholarship can strengthen healthcare delivery and the validity and relevance of academic outputs. PWUD who participate in these engagement activities may also experience individual-level impacts. Extant literature suggests the relational aspects of engagement may enhance an individual’s personal well-being and improve health behaviours. However, healthcare and academic spaces may also act as risk environments, where PWUD may encounter discrimination, exacerbation of pre-existing trauma, or exploitation or tokenization. There has been insufficient exploration of the underpinnings for these variations in engagement impacts. This CRISM project proposes a realist review to understand what engagement approaches work to improve vs. worsen health for PWUD, why, and under what circumstances. This exploration is needed to document tacit knowledge of best practices for safely and meaningfully engaging PWUD in a way that confers mutual benefit to all parties.


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