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01.12.2017 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2017 Open Access

BMC Health Services Research 1/2017

Engaging patients in health research: identifying research priorities through community town halls

BMC Health Services Research > Ausgabe 1/2017
Holly Etchegary, Lisa Bishop, Catherine Street, Kris Aubrey-Bassler, Dale Humphries, Lidewij Eva Vat, Brendan Barrett



The vision of Canada’s Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research is that patients be actively engaged as partners in health research. Support units have been created across Canada to build capacity in patient-oriented research and facilitate its conduct. This study aimed to explore patients’ health research priorities in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador (NL).


Eight town halls were held with members of the general public in rural and urban settings across the province. Sessions were a hybrid information-consultation event, with key questions about health research priorities and outcomes guiding the discussion.


Sixty eight members of the public attended town hall sessions. A broad range of health experiences in the healthcare system were recounted. Key priorities for the public included access and availability of providers and services, disease prevention and health promotion, and follow-up support and community care. In discussing their health research priorities, participants spontaneously raised a broad range of suggestions for improving the healthcare system in our jurisdiction.


Public research priorities and suggestions for improving the provision of healthcare provide valuable information to guide Support Units’ planning and priority-setting processes. A range of research areas were raised as priorities for patients that are likely comparable to other healthcare systems. These create a number of health research questions that would be in line with public priorities. Findings also provide lessons learned for others and add to the evidence base on patient engagement methods.
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