New Research Commissioned by energi PR Explores Reputation of Canadian Healthcare and Patient Associations

Canadians prioritize transparency and delivering of positive support services when assessing value of patient associations.


New Leger research commissioned by energi PR demonstrates Canadians’ overwhelming support for Canadian patient associations and their work. More than nine in 10 of those aware of the associations reported a high level of regard and a direct connection to them.


The findings were released yesterday to healthcare industry leaders including representatives from Canada’s pharmaceutical companies and patient and advocacy groups. The data offered insights into what is driving member engagement in patient organizations, why people choose to sit on the side lines, perceptions of patient associations and a sampling of their perceptions of pharma industry partnerships.


“Understanding how Canadian patients think and feel about healthcare associations is a critical component of the work we do,” says Marlo Taylor, Senior Vice-President, Healthcare Lead, energi PR. “Building and protecting the reputation of healthcare groups begins with drilling into the reasons Canadians engage with and support various causes. Do Canadians feel connected to these groups? Do they rely on them for trustworthy information?”


Respondents indicated that trust, a feeling that their services positively affected people, and transparency are the key elements that patients look for when forming an opinion about a patient association. Regular communication and a sense that an organization delivers against their declared mandate was also seen as important to creating a positive reputation by most respondents.


Respondents also indicated that corporate partnerships are not on their radar when evaluating patient associations. Further to that, patient associations themselves report very positive attitudes towards industry relationships.


Additionally, the survey results revealed that traditional means of engagement, including websites and donations, are the primary ways Canadians connect to patient associations. Newsletters, emails and phone calls round out the top five ways respondents engage with such associations. Social media, events, volunteering and advocacy were lower on the list of reported activity. The larger the association, the more likely it was that the major means of patient engagement came through fundraising; smaller groups were more likely to engage through website visits.

The most common barriers to engagement included lack of awareness of the organization and no perceived need for support.


Leger completed 1,200 online interviews between April 10th and April 14th, 2014 with patients diagnosed with either cancer, depression, heart disease, or an inflammatory disease using Leger’s panel, LegerWeb. A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of +/- 2.8%, 19 times out of 20. Leger also interviewed eight national patient associations.