Deliberative public engagement to inform cancer control decision-making in Canada

MSFHR is providing matching funds for Dr. Stuart Peacock’s research through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Institute of Cancer Control (CIHR-ICR) Partnerships for Health Systems Improvement (PHSI) program. PHSI projects focus on health system improvements through applied and policy-relevant health systems services research that is useful to health system managers or policy-makers and strengthen the Canadian health system. The Canadian Centre for Applied Research in Cancer Control and Canadian Association of Provincial Cancer Agencies also contributed support.

Provincial and territorial governments face considerable challenges in making fair and sustainable health care funding decisions. These challenges are particularly evident in cancer control and care where expenditure has risen significantly in recent years compared to other areas of health care. Priority setting is the focus of health economics—a branch of economics concerned with issues related to the scarcity of healthcare resources. With cancer expected to continue to be the primary cause of death in Canada and anticipated to increase due to population growth and an aging population, priority setting is imperative.

Public input can assist policy-makers in developing policies that are fair, reflect citizens’ values, and are socially acceptable. Dr. Stuart Peacock, who holds the Leslie Diamond Chair in Cancer Survivorship, Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University (SFU), is co-leading a four-year study on the use of deliberative public engagement to inform cancer control priority setting and decision-making in Canada.

The study is based at the Canadian Centre for Applied Research in Cancer Control (ARCC) where Peacock is a co-director and hosted by the BC Cancer Agency (BCCA). Peacock is joined by co-principal investigators Dr. Michael Burgess, from the W. Maurice Young Centre for Applied Ethics, School of Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and Michael Sherar, CEO of Cancer Control Ontario.

The research team will develop, refine and expand methods of deliberative public engagement, with outputs from the study including: an “atlas” of priority setting processes in cancer control, a framework for deliberative public engagement, recommendations from deliberative public engagement at events relating to interventions and programs from across the cancer control continuum, development of tools and strategies, and recommendations for the most appropriate models of participatory governance.

Peacock’s study will result in values-based evidence that decision-makers at the national, provincial and territorial level can use to inform priority setting decisions for identifying effective and cost-efficient ways to improve cancer patient outcomes.