The INTERACT Program

The INTerventions, Equity, Research, and Action in Cities Team (INTERACT ) is a pan-Canadian collaboration of scientists, urban planners, public health practitioners, community partners, and members of the public, uncovering how the design of our cities is shaping the health and well-being of all Canadians.

In 2017, INTERACT launched a multiyear cohort study and intervention research platform to understand how built environment changes influence health. We have since expanded INTERACT’s research program to help cities respond effectively to today’s most pressing challenges. Our ultimate aim is to address the need for better evidence, generated by and for communities, that can guide local action and inform a broader national conversation on the design of healthier and more equitable cities in Canada. 





$225 M




Our aims

INTERACT has developed and implemented mixed methods natural experiment studies together with partners in four Canadian cities ongoing since 2017. We support city partners with research using novel data collection methods—including GPS and accelerometer data, map-based questionnaires, and Ecological Momentary Assessment surveys (EMA)—enriching our understanding of the pathways linking built environment interventions to health.


How are health and equity considered in the planning and design of built environment interventions?

We analyze planning documents and interview those who are rolling out policy changes on the ground to better understand how decisions surrounding built environment interventions are made, and whether/how health and equity are considered.


Where and for whom are urban changes implemented? 

We look at where urban interventions are implemented and who benefits, to assess whether urban changes are happening where they are most needed, and whether they can redress inequities over time.


What are the impacts of urban changes on health and equity?

Using quantitative and qualitative methods, we conduct longitudinal analyses to determine the impact of built environment interventions like active transportation and transit infrastructure, on physical activity, social connectedness, well-being, and related health inequalities.


How can results inform decision-making?

INTERACT supports stakeholders with evidence and recommends local actions to promote the design of equitable, resilient, and healthy cities for all.

Our research questions

Physical Activity

Is increased exposure to active transportation infrastructure associated with greater use of active transportation?

Are changes in exposure to active transportation infrastructure associated with more physical activity, transport-related and overall?

Intervention Context

How are constructs of social participation and well-being conceptualized by citizens, stakeholders, and researchers?

Do perceptions of urban form changes differ by gender and socio-economic status?

What are participants’ experiences of place as they pertain to physical activity, social participation, and well-being?

Social Participation

What types of urban environments are associated with greater social participation?

Are urban form changes related to changes in social participation?

How does the nature of one’s social network relate to daily mobility, and usage of urban form interventions?


What are methods for detection of transportation mode using accelerometer and GPS data?

How can changes in urban form be measured over time?


How are urban form environments associated with well-being?

How do individuals experience urban environments, and how do these experiences relate to well-being?

How do active transportation trips relate to feelings of well-being?

Knowledge Mobilization

What community level and contextual factors are at play in the implementation of urban form interventions?

What are stakeholders’ perceptions of factors that influence the success or failure of urban form interventions, and how does this vary across interventions and cities?

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