Health research in BC is complex. Research is underway at academic institutions, health authorities, research centres, corporations, and not-for-profit organizations. There are few mechanisms to develop strategy and coherence, and no clear picture exists of health research strengths and areas of need.

To address this, health research and health care leaders met in 2012 to discuss the potential of a health research strategy initiative to shape a more comprehensive, coordinated and systems-oriented approach to health research in BC. Participants agreed on the need for such a strategy, and endorsed the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR) to consult with the community and facilitate its development.

The strategy initiative has two aims:

  • To identify specific actions for collaborative implementation by the health research community.
  • To provide a framework from which other organizations can determine their own priorities, plans and investment decisions.

Preliminary planning included the establishment of an advisory board, planning team and reference group as well as key informant interviews. Analysis conducted by the planning team resulted in five directions as a framework for consultation. In spring 2013, these directions were discussed in focus groups involving stakeholders with a range of relevant experience and expertise. An online survey tested elements of the emerging strategy with a broad audience. Workshops were held to engage regional players in assessing the potential of the emerging health research strategy to support local needs. The final consultation element was a validation workshop – an opportunity to bring the results back to a diverse subset of key stakeholders to validate what was heard during the previous consultation activities.

At the conclusion of these consultation activities in the fall of 2013, three directions for health research in BC, along with associated actions emerged. Through spring and summer 2014, MSFHR will work with stakeholders to support the transition from strategy development to implementation, including a review of implementation models and development of recommendations regarding leadership and guidance for the implementation process.