Dr. Preston Smith (MD), Dr. Brandy Winquist (PhD), and Candace Skrapek. (Photos: Submitted)
Dr. Preston Smith (MD), Dr. Brandy Winquist (PhD), and Candace Skrapek. (Photos: Submitted)

Patient-oriented research in Saskatchewan receives $25.2 million in support

The Saskatchewan Centre for Patient-Oriented Research (SCPOR) based from the University of Saskatchewan (USask) has entered a second phase of operation, thanks to a $12.6-million grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and matching funds provided by a group of partners.

SCPOR was founded in 2015, as part of Canada’s Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research, led by CIHR. The first phase of the strategy established systems to support patient-oriented research in Saskatchewan. The second phase, which took effect in April 2022, will focus on implementing systems that will be sustainable beyond the grant’s period of support.

Patient-oriented research includes patients as partners on research teams. As experts in their own personal healthcare journey, patients, their families and their informal caregivers provide unique perspectives that help increase the likelihood that research will be implemented and lead to improved patient experiences. 

“Through patient-oriented research, we can achieve better experiences and better results for patients – the people of Saskatchewan,” said Dr. Preston Smith (MD), dean of the USask College of Medicine and named principal investigator. “We are grateful for CIHR’s [funding] commitment, and that of our partner agencies to this important initiative.”

The matching total $12.6-million cash and in-kind contributions will be provided by: the Saskatchewan Health Authority, University of Saskatchewan, University of Regina, Saskatchewan Polytechnic, Saskatchewan Health Quality Council, Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation, eHealth Saskatchewan, Saskatchewan Cancer Agency, and First Nations University of Canada.

“In Saskatchewan, patient partners and key organizations in health, education, and government are all collaborators in the grant and all have a voice at the table,” said Dr. Brandy Winquist (PhD), executive director, Academics and Learning with the Saskatchewan Health Authority.  “Saskatchewan is fortunate to have so many partners contributing to the initiative.”

Other significant collaborators include Patient Partners, Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, Métis Nation—Saskatchewan, the nātawihowin and mamawiikikayaahk Research and Mentorship Networks (Saskatchewan NEIHR), Saskatchewan Ministry of Health and Saskatchewan Ministry of Advanced Education.

“Collaborative health research initiatives that bring together the expertise of Patient Partners, researchers, policy makers and health care providers will have a greater impact than when these experts act alone,” said Patient Partner and representative on SCPOR’s Oversight Committee, Candace Skrapek. “I am excited to bring the Patient Partner voice and perspective to this new granting phase. Through collaboration with SCPOR’s partners we can strengthen the capacity needed to conduct patient-oriented research that will improve the lives, health outcomes, and care experiences of the people of Saskatchewan.”

SCPOR’s vision of working together for a healthier Saskatchewan through patient-oriented research is possible because of the commitment of our diverse partners.

“Our government is proud to invest in Saskatchewan Centre for Patient-Oriented Research as they leverage the experience of a variety of partners to ensure patients have a strong voice in the delivery of health care in our province,” said Saskatchewan Minister of Health, Paul Merriman. “This collaboration will lead to a responsive, equitable and innovative system that supports a healthier Saskatchewan.”

As one of 11 SPOR SUPPORT units across the country, SCPOR will continue to collaborate with national counterparts to extend the benefit of patient-oriented research beyond Saskatchewan.

“Our work at CIHR has made patient-oriented research no longer just a concept in Canada; patients and researchers are working together to produce measurable improvements in service delivery and health care practice across the country,” said Dr. Michael Strong (MD), CIHR president. “Patient-oriented research wouldn’t be where it is today without the ongoing support and contributions from all SPOR-funded entities and their steadfast commitment to patient-oriented research in each of their communities.”

“To provide Canadians with high-quality health care, we need research evidence to tell us what works,” said the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Health, Government of Canada. “Patients, caregivers, and families help get at this evidence by adding their lived experience to the research process. Through this collaboration with the provincial government and partners, we are strengthening health care systems and improving patient care for people in Saskatchewan.”

Learn how patient-oriented research is making a difference in Saskatchewan here.

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