As part of the BC Academic Health Science Network’s commitment to providing the province’s health research community with the best possible resources during the COVID-19 pandemic, a provincial COVID-19 research inventory was fast-tracked in partnership with the BC Ministry of Health, the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research, BC Centre for Disease Control and additional partners. As of June 8th, more than 200 research teams and trials studying COVID-19 are listed in the inventory, attesting to the agility and mobilization skills of researchers throughout the province.
Following the launch of the COVID-19 Response by BC AHSN, there was a feeling expressed by stakeholders that patient engagement should not be lost during this time of adaptation of processes and speedy processes to get research mobilized.
At the same time that a BC AHSN team was populating the overall BC COVID-19 Research Inventory, Lynne Feehan and Bahar Shafaghi from one of its units, the BC SUPPORT Unit, revealed that they were collecting information to specifically identify POR research that was COVID-19 specific.
Instead of doing the same work twice, Terri and Paola Pinto Vidal, REBC Navigator, and their BC SUPPORT Unit colleagues changed the self-reporting tool used for researchers to have their study included in the inventory. This change went live on June 1st; the inventory submission questionnaire now includes the question:
"Do you intend, or would you like to explore opportunities for engaging patients, families, members of the public and/or community organizations as partners on your research team?"
“The first day the question was included,” Terri Fleming, Unit Director of Research Ethics BC noted, “a researcher who added a new study to the inventory selected the option to be contacted by the BC SUPPORT Unit about opportunities for engagement.”
Every week, Terri provides a report to Bahar of any new listings that been submitted, where teams have ticked this box for the BC SUPPORT Unit to reach out to them.
There have been four studies identified so far that have incorporated patient-oriented research; however, the list is by no means complete. The cross-unit team continues to examine more than 200 submitted studies in the inventory to find more opportunities, mobilizing Lynne Feehan to connect with research teams if the potential to embrace patient-oriented research exists. Lynne, a knowledge translation specialist, then offers supports through the BC SUPPORT Unit to streamline the process to incorporate POR, offering existing resources and addressing concerns such as time and budget limitations when integrating the patient voice.