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Having a Voice in Arthritis Research

Should patients have a voice in the research being conducted to treat or cure them? The Canadian Arthritis Network thinks so.

CAN works closely with the arthritis community including patients, academics, rheumatologists, industry, government and non-governmental organizations to ensure that the research it funds is meeting unmet needs.

When it was founded in 1998, as part of the Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE), consulting with people afflicted by arthritis was rare. However, over the years CAN has provided the resources and opportunities for informed patients—consumers as they are called in the arthritis community -- to become meaningful partners in the research process.

“CAN is a pioneer in inviting consumers to influence disease research,” says Dr. Monique Gignac, Co-Scientific Director of the Canadian Arthritis Network. “This wouldn’t have been possible without the NCE. CAN is the first disease specific network that was funded by the NCE and we’re grateful that we’ve had more than a decade to shape arthritis research in Canada.”

CAN’s Consumer Advisory Council (CAC), one of its working committees, is composed of volunteer consumer representatives from each province in Canada.  CAC members assist CAN’s researchers with their projects by acting as consultants or collaborators.

The CAC has had a significant impact on CAN’s governance, training programs and funded research. And consumers are involved in every aspect of CAN, with membership on each of its committees.

The CAC’s latest accomplishment is the creation of a novel online database that captures the names of Canadians interested in consulting or collaborating on arthritis research projects. And CAC is asking arthritis patients from across Canada to help shape arthritis research by becoming part of this new database.

The Highly Qualified Consumer (HQC) Database will allow researchers to choose from a large group of volunteers living across Canada and representing all the different types of arthritis. This new tool will assist with vital research that will ultimately benefit all arthritis patients.

The unique relationship that CAN has developed with arthritis patients is a model to be applauded.

For more information on the HQC database visit This link will take you to another Web site can.arthritisalliance.ca/en/archive/consumers/hqc-database


The Canadian Arthritis Network (CAN) is a not-for-profit organization that supports integrated, trans-disciplinary research and development. CAN is the single point of contact that links nearly 200 leading Canadian arthritis researchers and clinicians, 45 Canadian academic institutions, The Arthritis Society, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research's Institute of Musculoskeletal Health and Arthritis, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, and government.

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