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Patients as Partners


An injection of funding allows a team of Memorial researchers to continue working with patient partners to improve the health of Canadians.

On Wednesday, July 13, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research announced a combined investment of more than $9.7 million over five years from the Government of Canada and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to support the ongoing work patient-oriented research as part of the SPOR Support Unit for People and Patient-Oriented Research and Trials (SUPPORT).

Since 2014, Newfoundland and Labrador’s SRAP SUPPORT unit, called NL SUPPORT, based in Memorial, has been helping local researchers conduct patient-oriented research (POR).

The Government of Canada will provide over $4.8 million to NL SUPPORT over a five-year period (April 2021 to March 2026) to continue its ROP work through increased collaboration between SUPPORT jurisdictional units and other SPOR-funded research groups.

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador will match this funding, also providing more than $4.8 million over five years – a continuation of the support that was provided to the unit during the initiative’s first phase. .

“Canada’s Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research changes for the better the way we engage patients in health research. — Dorothée Senior

Patients as Partners

SPOR is an initiative of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research that supports various entities to build patient-oriented research capacity in Canada, which emphasizes the engagement of patients, their caregivers and families in as active partners who help shape health research.

The funding will enable NL SUPPORT to build on patient engagement as partners in research with a greater focus on equity, diversity and inclusion, and to ensure that evidence of research inform health care practice and health system innovation and transformation.

Dr. Brendan Barrett, Professor of Medicine (Nephrology), Faculty of Medicine, is the Principal Investigator of NL SUPPORT.

“While great strides have been made by SPOR SUPPORT units and researchers across the country, system and culture change takes time,” Dr. Barrett said. “We are very pleased to receive this funding which will help us develop a sustainability plan and continue our work of creating a culture of patient-centered research in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Dr. Neil Bose, Vice President (Research), says the investment will strengthen essential health-related research conducted by Memorial teams.

“Investments in health innovation lead to better patient outcomes and address health care challenges that affect our province, our country and the world,” he said.

“Support from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research will allow Memorial’s multidisciplinary researchers to work with patient partners, enabling them to advance critical studies that have real impact on the delivery of health care. Congratulations to Dr. Barrett and his team as they continue this important work.

Main components

In this next phase, NL SUPPORT will focus on equity, diversity and inclusion in its work to help facilitate research quality, relevance and impact.

To achieve this, the unit’s governance structure will include representatives of researchers, trainees, patients, Indigenous communities and organizations, health professionals, and health system administrators.

Over the five-year period, the main areas of work will be ensuring rapid access to data for researchers; support research that strengthens best practices in health care; increase local capacity for patient-oriented research; and ensure that patients are genuinely involved.

Together with its main program, Quality of Care NL, NL SUPPORT will also continue to work with patient partners to improve the health care services provided to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Acting as a catalyst within a learning healthcare system – a structure in which all actors work together to generate knowledge and continually improve care – NL SUPPORT and Quality of Care NL will work to reduce low-value care, by ensuring that the right treatment reaches the right patient at the right time.

In fact, past work by the unit is estimated to have avoided costs to the provincial health care system of approximately $2.8 million over three years.

Meaningful engagement

NL SUPPORT has established a Patient Advisory Council which provides advice and guidance in determining patient-focused research priorities, engaging patients in research projects, and planned public outreach activities.

Some members of the NL SUPPORT Patient Advisory Council.

“My work as a Patient Partner has allowed me to contribute to improving patient care, health outcomes and the efficiency of the provincial healthcare system,” said NL SUPPORT Patient Partner Dorothy Senior.

“Canada’s Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research changes for the better the way we engage patients in health research.