Canadians asked for help in directing future anesthesia research

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A national project is empowering patients, caregivers, and healthcare providers to ask the big questions that will inform future anesthesia research in Canada. The Canadian Anesthesia Research Priority Setting Partnership (CAR-PSP) hopes that input provided will identify the most important areas of research to improve the physical and mental well-being of patients attending hospital for any operation or procedure requiring any type of anesthetic.

“Clinical research often does not reflect the needs of a patient population,” says Dr. Dolores McKeen, chief IWK Health Centre’s Women’s & Obstetric Anesthesia department and project lead. “Bringing patients and clinicians together with researchers can prioritize questions, particularly in treatment uncertainty.”

Anesthesia research funding for studies and research trials is generally delivered through ‘responsive funding’ programs where researchers propose topics to the funding bodies.  As a result, a number of factors can influence the research agenda away from the needs of the population it is meant to serve.  The CAR-PSP supports a ‘needs-led’ program driven by a systematic approach to identifying and setting research and development priorities.

“Patients undergoing anesthesia often have many questions and may not always have the opportunity, time or courage to ask, or seek out the answers to these questions,” says Claire Ward, patient member of the CAR-PSP steering committee . “The typical anesthetic care delivery setting can sometimes be a stressful or intimidating environment for patients. This research allows them a unique platform to have their voices heard alongside researchers, clinicians and caregivers.”

Information gathered through the CAR-PSP will identify and prioritize clinical care or treatment uncertainties, and then produce a final top ten list of Canadian Anesthesia research priorities. The CAR-PSP will then widely publicize them to Canadian researchers and those organizations who fund anesthesia research in Canada to ensure these areas are given priority. This project is sponsored in part by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Canada’s federal funding agency for health research. For more information or to take part, visit