National survey shows strong support for health research

8 May 2015

MSFHR is pleased to have collaborated with Research Canada, other national partners and our provincial counterpart, the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation, on the fifth national public opinion poll in the CanadaSpeaks series.

For the first time, we commissioned a BC-specific sample and we are encouraged by the fact that British Columbians are committed to health research and health innovation in Canada.

In fact, 89 percent of British Columbians view health and medical research as making important contributions to the Canadian health-care system. And three quarters of British Columbians say health and medical research makes important contributions to the Canadian economy. For an organization like ours that is focused on supporting a thriving health research community in BC that works together to improve the health and well-being of our citizens, this level of support validates and affirms the work we do.

According to the poll, seven out of 10 British Columbians are interested in participating in health research and three-quarters would allow researchers to use their health information as long as their personal information is held privately.  That’s great news. However, only 16 percent of British Columbians say they have heard “a lot” or “something” about patients and the public participating in health research, including efforts to determine priority topics and deciding on future areas of funding.

The health research community in BC has a tremendous opportunity to leverage the high level of public interest in health research, but we need to do more to help British Columbians channel their interest into tangible contributions.

We have mechanisms at our disposal to move the needle. BC has a strong foundation of patient involvement in health-care improvement through the work of the Patients as Partners|Patient Voices Network, a Ministry of Health initiative administered by ImpactBC, a not-for-profit organization that advances improvement by bringing together public, health care and government to work as partners in building a sustainable health-care system in BC.

Work is already underway to expand patient involvement in health research through the BC SUPPORT Unit, a partnership involving MSFHR, the BC government, other members of the health research community and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The BC SUPPORT Unit will provide services and connect patients, health-care providers, researchers and decision makers to ensure that more research is focused on and informed by patients.

BC has also recently published Directions for Health Research in BC, a health research strategy that outlines strategic directions and actions that we believe are vital to establishing a strong, coherent and effective research enterprise. Key among those actions is facilitating more public involvement in health research.

Research Canada has published the national results along with the British Columbia and Saskatchewan results.