Health Research at a Glance

Patients and  caregivers are actively partnering in health research globally — and Canada is no exception.

It is still important that we continue to be subjects of research.

As partners, patients and caregivers are helping to set research priorities, to evaluate research, and to partner on research teams. Researchers are starting to value the perspective of patients and caregivers as an essential piece of the research puzzle.

Federally, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)  launched its Strategy for Patient Oriented Research (SPOR) initiative in 2011 .    More about SPOR

SPOR Networks

Currently there are several pan-Canadian SPOR Networks:

a) SPOR Networks in Chronic Disease  learn about the 5 networks under Chronic Disease.

b) SPOR Network in Youth and Adolescent Mental Health – ACCESS Open Minds – more

c) Pan-Canadian SPOR Network in Primary and Integrated Health Care Innovations  more


There are SPOR SUPPORT Units in most provinces/territories that work within their jurisdictions to promote the inclusion of patients and caregivers as partners in research. – for a complete list of SPOR SUPPORT Units.

Many of these Units support groups of patients and caregivers active as partners on research teams with training and networking.

The Patient and Community Engagement Research or PaCER program is part of the O’Brien Institute of Public Health in the Cumming School of Medicine in partnership with the Strategic Clinical Networks (SCNs) in Alberta.  More about PaCER.

PaCER  is a 1 year university-based training program that prepares patients, family members and students to become researchers by designing and conducting research.

This is a unique opportunity for patients and family members. While it is based in Calgary, PaCER is looking at expanding to an online format — stay tuned!

Other National Organizations

The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) is an independent, not-for-profit organization that provides essential information on Canada’s health systems and the health of Canadians.

The Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement (CFHI) is a not-for-profit organization funded by the Government of Canada, dedicated to accelerating healthcare improvement. CFHI plays a unique, pan-Canadian role in spreading healthcare innovations.


In the English-speaking world, there are some key international organizations that promote patient and caregiver involvement in health research.

UK          INVOLVE

US          PCORI

The Canadian Instititues of Health Research (CIHR) is Canada’s federal funding agency for health research. Composed of 13 Institutes, CIHR collaborates with partners and researchers to support the discoveries and innovations that improve our health and strengthen our health care system.  Some of the institutes engage with patient/caregiver partners. CIHR invests approximately $1 billion a year in research.  Learn more.  

Webinars by Patient Partners on Partnering in Research
Based on work funded by

through Patients Canada