Patient engagement in Canada: a scoping review of the 'how' and 'what' of patient engagement in health research

Health Res Policy Syst. 2018 Feb 7;16(1):5. doi: 10.1186/s12961-018-0282-4.


Background: Over the last 10 years, patient engagement in health research has emerged as the next evolution in healthcare research. However, limited evidence about the clear role and scope of patient engagement in health research and a lack of evidence about its impact have influenced the uptake, implementation and ongoing evolution of patient engagement. The present study aims to conduct a scoping review to identify methods for and outcomes of patient engagement in health research.

Methods: An adaptation of the scoping review methodology originally described by Arksey and O'Malley and updated by Levac, Colquhoun and O'Brien was applied. Sources from a formal database search and relevant documents from a grey literature search were compiled into data extraction tables. Articles were synthesised into key themes according to the (1) methods and (2) outcomes of patient engagement in health research.

Results: The total yield for the scoping review was 55 records from across Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States. While evidence about the methods used to engage patients in health research is increasing, stronger evidence of specific patient and healthcare system outcomes is required. This necessitates further mobilisation of research that explores outcomes and that validates specific tools to evaluate engagement. Additionally, theoretical frameworks that can better inform and sustain patient engagement across the lifecycle of health research are lacking.

Conclusion: Further increasing the volume and reach of evidence about patient engagement in health research will support the paradigmatic shift needed to normalise the patient's role in research beyond 'subject' or 'participant', so as to ultimately improve patient health outcomes and better address healthcare reform in Canada.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomedical Research*
  • Canada
  • Humans
  • Patient Participation*
  • Research Design*