Quality and Productivity Database

Descriptive Title of Proposal: Ma Santé au Sommet (MSS) My Health First – When the University Becomes a Key Player in Promoting Health
Year Submitted 2011
Person(s) Responsible for the Idea
Name Title
Guylaine Rivard Coordinator of the MSS program
Name of Institution Université de Montréal
Office Address C.P. 6128, succursale Centre-Ville,
Montréal, Quebec H3C 3J7
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Telephone: 514-343-6111 poste 4245
Name (Senior Administrative Office of the Institution) Louise Béliveau
Title (Senior Administrative Office of the Institution) Vice-rectrice aux affaires étudiantes et au développement durable
Office Address C.P. 6128, succursale Centre-Ville
Montreal, Quebec H3C 3J7
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Telephone: 514-343-6798
Email Address: Email hidden; Javascript is required.

MSS is an innovative health promotion program for the 70,000 students, faculty and staff at Université de Montréal and its affiliated schools (HEC Montréal and École Polytechnique de Montréal).


MSS seeks to promote a healthy lifestyle on campus. The current elements of the program are physical activity (2007), eating habits (2008) and psychological balance (2010).


The MSS approach covers awareness and education about healthy living, as well as the creation, on campus, of environments conducive to adopting a healthy and sustainable lifestyle (e.g. access to products or services, and physical, social and political structures).

Organizational Structure

With financial support from the three institutions, a four-person team was created, composed of one coordinator and three managers. One of the innovative aspects of this program is that they work in close partnership with multi-sector, multi-organization and multidisciplinary teams made up of students, faculty, professionals and other staff members. This serves to bring together experts and users from the three institutions, service units and academic units, who can act as strategic advisors, members of committees or ad hoc working groups, or lend a hand in the organization.


The team:

  • Conducts powerful and progressive health-based communication campaigns on priority themes, chosen by and tailored to members of the community;
  • Mobilizes all decisional bodies and influential players in the creation of environments conducive to adopting healthy lifestyles relating to priority themes;
  • Establishes partnerships with units so they can work with them to improve services offered;
  • Promotes the advancement and transfer of knowledge by training students (internships, research projects and participation in studies) and conducting research in the wellness sector and cross-cutting areas of application;
  • Uses evaluation measures to regularly adjust the program.


The program is continually improved following various evaluations and by focusing on other areas of lifestyle such as sexual health and a reduction in the consumption of alcohol, tobacco, medications and drugs.

Criteria Please submit one paragraph describing how the proposal fulfills each of the evaluation criteria.

Knowledge transfer to the community and other institutions The principle of transferability is at the very core of the program. One of the primary objectives of MSS is to provide its clienteles with the necessary knowledge and skills for adopting and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. They can then put them into practice in their current and future living environments. The MSS program's website (http://www.masanteausommet.com) and the actions it promotes through social media represent a major source of information that is accessible to all. As proof of their relevance, the use of these tools is increasingly popular. In addition, more than 300 students on campus were trained as part of the MSS project since it was created (internship, directed work, research, supervision, etc.). The expertise developed (work practices, mobilization of campus leaders, themes, communication tools, action in the community, data on the community, etc.) over the past three years is highly relevant for any institution wanting to implement a program to promote health in a university setting. Since the issue has become a priority for several universities, various institutions have already expressed great interest in MSS. The MSS team is more than willing to share its wealth of experience. Indeed, it has shown this on a number of occasions: presentation of MSS in October 2010 at the annual conference of the Northeast Campus Sustainability Consortium, participation in a poster session on health-based initiatives during the International conference on physical activity and health promotion in June 2010, invitation to present the MSS program at the annual meeting of the Canada Council of University Physical Education and Kinesiology Administrators in June 2009 and at CREPUQ's 23rd seminar on occupational health and safety in universities in October 2008. It also plans to share its results, experience and knowledge during the university continuing education program of the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (student sports network), slated to take place in May 2011 at UQAM.

Quality Impact

In its "action on environments" component for making the campus a place that is conducive to adopting a healthy lifestyle, the MSS has, among other things, been able to: - Improve the quality of food available in cafeterias and vending machines; - Offer physical activity courses outside the Centre d'éducation physique et des sports de l'Université de Montréal (CEPSUM), in venues close to where staff and students work or study; - Enhance the environment in stairwells by transforming them into areas where student photos are exhibited, making these areas more attractive and likelier to be used by the community; - Etc. All these actions, along with the various tools developed, have had the effect of improving the university community's quality of life. It was possible to evaluate their positive impact with various surveys. A first exploratory survey of 10,500 individuals in June 2008 had already revealed interest in the MSS program. Two years later, in the spring of 2010, as part of the survey answered by 5,599 individuals, 96% of employees and 95% of students stated that they needed a health promotion program like MSS to improve their work and study environment. Furthermore, data has shown that the tools put at the disposal of the community are highly appreciated (participation in and appreciation of activities, website traffic, etc.). Lastly, the number of partner service units, academic units and employee and student associations has grown considerably, to reach some sixty groups in 2010.

Productivity Impact

The MSS project is funded by Université de Montréal, HEC Montréal and École Polytechnique de Montréal. The four-employee team works for all three institutions. This centralization of tasks results in significant economies of scale in terms of annual costs for operating the health promotion program. Moreover, although it is difficult to evaluate the impacts of a health promotion program, in 2011-2012 the MSS team will measure changes in the university community's behaviour following the program's many actions. A rigorous methodology with proximal and distal indicators was established in order to carry out a serious and conclusive assessment. This assessment will be conducted by campus researchers and cover the long term. Lastly, by seeking to improve the work and study environment on campus, the MSS project has had an unquestionable impact in several areas, demonstrated time and again in scientific literature. These include a boost in productivity, better stress management, strong sense of belonging, lower absenteeism rates, easier staffing, etc.


MSS innovates as a health promotion program by tailoring each of its actions to the reality of university life. The MSS team systematically strives to collect all data available in this area and is aware of how little information exists on this community. MSS takes advantage of its meetings with expert committees and its consultations with multiple community resources to come up with truly innovative themes and practices, adapted to the reality of university and more specifically to the reality of students. Getting students, faculty, professionals and other staff members together in committees and working groups has made it possible, among other things, to create new links between various services and academic units. Furthermore, whereas most health promotion programs target the general public, and up to a certain point people who are already convinced, the MSS program focuses on new and unique ways of reaching 18- to 25-year-olds. For the MSS team, this reality requires considerable creativity and audacity on a daily basis. Because of all the new features introduced (blog, webisodes, games, active campus map, etc.), there is no doubt that the MSS now represents an unprecedented reference for all universities when it comes to promoting a healthy lifestyle.