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Access to Research in Community/Rural Hospitals Project (ARCH)

Principal Investigator(s):

Jennifer Tsang 

There is a discrepancy between where patients receive care and where research is being done. This slows down patient recruitment, affects study result generalizability, and limits patient access to research studies. Less than 10% of hospitals in Canada are academic hospitals, and academic hospitals tend not to reach suburban or rural areas.

The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the gaps in our health research system and highlighted healthcare inequalities. There is a dire need to find creative solutions to improve the efficiency of our health system through research and innovation. Hence, there is an urgent need to develop systematic approaches that are patient-oriented and EDI-focused to expand research engagement in the communities we serve.

This study aims  to facilitate the expansion of health research in community and rural hospitals in Canada to improve research productivity, equity, diversity, and inclusivity, leading to a transformation of Canadian health research that will improve healthcare delivery and patient outcomes.

Research Aims

1. To explore patient perspectives about access to and conduct of research in community and rural hospitals (patient-oriented).

2. To document the views of community and rural hospitals’ interested and affected parties, including senior leadership (top-down) and healthcare/research staff (bottom-up), on factors influencing health research in community and rural hospitals.

3. To identify systemic strategies, as suggested by decision makers in national and provincial organizations, that may facilitate research engagement in community and rural hospitals (policy-level).


Data collection:

- Demographic and diversity data survey (sex, gender and other intersecting identity factors).

- In-depth semi-structured interviews to explore participants’ perceptions, opinions and experiences.

- Document review (e.g. hospital policies, standard operating procedures, strategic plans related to research, policies, frameworks, and strategies regarding hospital engagement in research).

Study participants:

- Aim 1: Patients with lived-experience of having received care in community or rural hospitals or having participated in research studies (N=65).

- Aim 2: Senior hospital administrators and healthcare/research staff in community or rural hospitals with or without existing research programs (N=84).

- Aim 3: Decision makers of provincial/national healthcare or research organizations (N=60).


Alexandra Binnie, ARCH Project Team