Canada’s attitude and approach towards medical research is making a slow-but-steady shift; from doctor centric, to patient centric. Previously, doctors and scientists conducted research without much public input, but patients and caregivers are starting to get an increasing amount of say in what is being investigated, and how.
(Image credit: Tim Fraser)
Canada is following the lead of organizations such as the James Lind Alliance in the United Kingdom, which uses community input to establish a list of top 10 research priorities for major medical conditions. The Canadian Institutes of Health Research launched its Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research in 2011. Its goal is to promote community involvement to ensure patients’ voices are being heard.
“What we’re trying to do is change the culture of medicine by putting patients in all our activities. Sometimes if you’re really trying to change the way you understand a disease or care for a group of patients, having them there is very grounding and makes you much more efficient,” says Dr. Adeera Levin, a principal investigator at the Can-SOLVE network, which seeks solutions and innovations to overcome chronic kidney disease.
This approach does come with some drawbacks. Some view patient involvement as an unnecessary extra step in research. Investigators who already have a lot on their plate may be overburdened by the extra work required to keep patients involved each step of the way.
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