How to better engage marginalized groups in healthcare systems

What we know and what we hope to learn together

The Canadian Partnership Against Cancer commissioned the Propel Centre for Population Health, University of Waterloo to explore how the health system can better engage marginalized groups in collective problem-solving and decision-making.

In Canada, cancer outcomes differ across at-risk groups, based on several sociodemographic variables including how much money people make, where they live, and where they were born.

According to the Partnership’s Cancer System Performance Report 2017, these barriers may prevent at-risk groups from accessing cancer care services, reducing their chances of achieving better outcomes and a positive experience.

Bringing the voices of disadvantaged groups to the table can help us better understand the values and preferences of those facing sociodemographic barriers and identify acceptable trade-offs related to specific policy alternatives.

To move this work forward, the Propel Centre completed an environmental scan and conducted key informant interviews to examine and compare effective ways to engage marginalized groups in policymaking, and specifically in health equity.

In August, Anila Sunnak, Public and Patient Program Manager at the Partnership shared findings from the environmental scan with the National Health Engagement Network (NHEN), an online community of practice encompassing over 100 professionals across Canada working to advance public and patient engagement in health practice and policy.

The final draft of the environmental scan, Leading Practices on Engaging with Marginalized Group: What We Know and What We Hope to Learn Together, will be released this fall.

Supplementary materials are now available for download, including presentation slides from the NHEN meeting and a reflection guide outlining key learnings from the environmental scan. For more information or to get involved in our work, please contact