CIHR Virtual Listening Workshop: Refresh of SPOR

On February 14, 2024, Research Impact Canada (RIC) hosted a two-hour, virtual listening workshop with RIC members across Canada to hear their insights on the refresh of Canada’s Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research (SPOR). Research that puts patients and families at the core of the research project is a strong knowledge mobilization method designed to meet their needs. Since SPOR was first established in 2011, a lot has changed. It was time to reflect on what had been achieved over the past decade, what is working well, and what might need to change. Together with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), RIC invited members to develop recommendations for CIHR on one of the six refresh themes, specifically Theme 6: How to strengthen collaboration with policy and health system decision-makers to increase research impact.

Three main questions were discussed during the workshop:

  1. What key elements support successful collaboration between researchers and policymakers that should be sustained or strengthened?
  2. How can SPOR support research to be more actionable for policy and health system decision-makers?
  3. What challenges do health researchers and health decision-makers face in collaborating effectively, and what design elements of SPOR could help to overcome these challenges?

The workshop began with an overview presentation by CIHR representative, Amy Lang, before breaking into a roundtable discussion for the first question led by David Phipps (RIC Network Director). For the second question, participants were divided into two breakout rooms with facilitators, Bissy Waariyo (Director of Operations) and Sylvia Urbanik (Senior Knowledge Mobilization Specialist), leading two separate group discussions, and then everyone was brought back to the roundtable for the last question, which was led by David once again. A summary of the discussion points concluded the event.

Some key takeaways that emerged from the workshop include:

  • Sustained/increased funding to help build capacity for collaboration and knowledge-sharing.
  • Engage all stakeholders to enhance the relevancy and impact of research on policy decisions.
  • Facilitate access to relevant data that will promote decision-making and policy development.
  • Have more funding opportunities be based on outcomes and long-term goals instead of timelines.
  • Grow capacity of evidence-based research.
  • Create opportunities to not only meet with policymakers at federal and provincial levels of government, but also work collaboratively with them as well and have the policymakers facilitate uptake of research at the ground-level.
  • Make research more accessible to policymakers and researchers
  • Make researchers, patients and policy makers more accessible to each other. Need funding for exchanges.

It was a highly engaging session and RIC members had a lot of to say on bridging the research-policy gap in SPOR funding while CIHR representatives listened. Thank you CIHR for the opportunity for our RIC members to voice their concerns, feedback, and thoughts on how the refresh of SPOR can better benefit researchers and policymakers!