Citizen engagement

Citizen engagement is the meaningful involvement of individual citizens in policy or program development. To put it simply, citizens are "engaged" when they play an active role in defining issues, considering solutions, and identifying resources or priorities for action. This "meaningful involvement" can take place at a variety of stages in the research, planning, or implementation phases of a project.

What does this mean for CIHR?

CIHR has adopted the term citizen engagement because the essence of "engagement" is far more active than traditionally passive public consultation in its recognition of the capacity of citizens to discuss and generate options independently. The term "citizen" includes interested representatives from the general public, consumers of health services, patients, caregivers, advocates, and representatives from affected community and voluntary health organizations. For CIHR, this involvement of citizens can span the full course of policy or program development, from agenda-setting and planning to decision-making, implementation, and review.

CIHR is moving forward in realizing a more systematic, ongoing integration of citizens' input in priority setting, governance, and funding programs and tools. In 2008, CIHR's Partnerships and Citizen Engagement Branch led the development of a Framework for Citizen Engagement.

The Framework identifies four strategic areas of focus for citizen engagement at CIHR. These areas include:

  1. Representation on CIHR's Boards and Committees
  2. Corporate and Institute strategic plans, priorities, policies, and guidelines
  3. Research priority setting and Integrated Knowledge Translation
  4. Knowledge Dissemination and Public Outreach

In fact, the Framework is noted in CIHR's Five Year Strategic Plan under Strategic Direction # 3: Accelerate the Capture of Health and Economic Benefits of Health Research. We expect that this Framework will further strengthen Canadian knowledge translation efforts in health research in the coming year. For more information, see the CIHR Citizen Engagement Framework site.

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