About PHSI

CIHR's Partnerships for Health System Improvement (PHSI) program supports teams of researchers and decision makers interested in conducting applied and policy-relevant health systems and services research that responds to the needs of health care decision makers and strengthens the Canadian health system.

Applied health services (including public health), health systems and policy research has played an important role in discussions, debate and decision-making in health and health care in Canada for decades, and will continue to do so in the current 'evidence-based' environment. While decision-making in health care and public health organizations is a complex process, research evidence has an important role to play. When the research process is guided by the information needs of users of research, findings are more likely to be translated into new knowledge. Therefore, the PHSI program requires meaningful collaboration between researchers and decision makers likely to be able to make use of the results of the research.

Learn more about PHSI through our brochure.

PHSI objectives

  • Support research that reflects the emerging health needs of Canadians and the evolution of the health system and supports health policy decision-making;
  • Support research relevant to decision makers by producing results that can be applied to multiple regions and/or settings;
  • Foster collaboration with the provinces and with individuals and organizations in or outside of Canada that have an interest in health or health research and engage a variety of partners, "in or outside Canada, with complementary research interests";
  • Promote the involvement and recognition of, and respect for, health researchers from an array of health disciplines; and,
  • Enable the dissemination of knowledge and application of health research to improve the health of Canadians and strengthen the Canadian health care system (including the public health system).

Researchers interested in applying should consult the funding opportunity for details on application procedures, review and evaluation.

Peer Review

The PHSI review process will change significantly beginning with the Spring 2014 PHSI competition. Descriptions of the changes are outlined below:

  • There will be five reviewers assigned to each application: 2 academic reviewers, 2 knowledge user reviewers, and 1 reviewer who may be either a researcher or knowledge user.
  • Reviewers will complete a Structured Review in ResearchNet. Reviewers will rate each adjudication criterion using a letter scale (A-E), and will provide comments regarding the strengths and weaknesses of each criterion.
  • CIHR will be using a multi-stage approach to peer review. Each stage is described briefly below.
    • Stage 1: Expert reviewers will complete the Structured Review worksheet in ResearchNet for each of the 10-20 applications assigned to them. An asynchronous online discussion tool will allow reviewers to discuss the applications they have been assigned with the other 4 reviewers assigned the same application. At the end of Stage 1, reviewers will provide CIHR with the information contained in the structured review worksheet (application ratings (A-E) and comments), as well as a validated rank-ordered list of the applications assigned to them.
    • Pre-Stage 2: The top applications will move on to Stage 2. The percentage of applications moving forward will depend on the budget available for the PHSI competition, and the application pressure. A multidisciplinary committee of reviewers will be assigned 10-20 applications. In this stage, reviewers will be asked to read the Stage 1 reviews of each application, and integrate the reviews of the 5 reviewers. They will have access to the applications as well, which they may read as they deem appropriate. Reviewers in this stage are asked to decide which applications should be funded. Reviewers will bin their assigned applications into a “yes – to fund” bin or a “no – to not fund” bin. Because all applications at this stage may be of high quality, CIHR will assign a maximum number of “yes” and “no” votes that reviewers will be allowed to use.
    • Stage 2: Stage 2, or the Final Assessment Stage (FAS), of the peer-review process is the face-to-face meeting. The objective of the FAS is an extension of the Pre-Stage 2 yes/no binning exercise in that the peer review committee will be responsible for providing CIHR with a final review recommendation by indicating the applications that they feel should be funded, and those that should not.
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