Dr. Jill Hayden

DC, PhD, Dalhousie University
  • 2010-2015 CCRF Research Chair in Epidemiology


Dr. Hayden studies back pain prognosis and management, currently focused on research in the emergency department of QEII Health Sciences Centre hospital in Halifax.

“Working with a large team of co-investigators, collaborators and trainees, there are many different directions with this research: who’s coming into the emergency department; why they choose to visit emergency, and if they’re being managed appropriately once there.”  – Dr. Jill Hayden

Diagnostic Imaging and Back Pain

Back pain is one of the top five reasons people visit the emergency department in Canada. When Dr. Hayden’s team looked at how people were being managed, they observed two opportunities that were related to diagnostic imaging and opioids.

With diagnostic imaging, ‘Choosing Wisely’ and practice guidelines recommend to not take X-rays for low back pain within the first six weeks unless red flags are present. Dr. Hayden’s team is conducting a study to implement these guidelines, including the barriers and enablers for appropriate imaging use. Her team is now in the process of developing education materials and changes in process for managing back pain patients around image ordering.

Opioids and Back Pain

Research has found that new opioid prescription for acute pain in chronic conditions such as low back pain may contribute to long-term opioid use and harms. Dr. Hayden’s team is now looking at people who come into the emergency department with acute back pain and how many of them go on to become long-term opioid users. They’re also analyzing how they may be able to manage people differently in the acute-care setting to reduce future, long-term health impacts.


Dr. Hayden focuses on improving the quality and use of research evidence for more effective healthcare decision-making and improved patient outcomes.

Her team is now starting to implement diagnostic imaging guidelines that could lead to changes in care and patient outcomes in emergency care. They look forward to the results of this study.

On the ground, Dr. Hayden credits her team for their success.

“I am very fortunate to have a terrific team, including a wonderful group of staff, interdisciplinary collaborators and trainees. I think that our collaborative approach, with diverse talented team members, allows us to learn from each other, to ask better questions, and to do better research.” – Dr. Hayden

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