"The results identified points of tension between board members, the health professions and the Ministry of Health," says Asst. Prof. James Frankish, the project's principal investigator and associate director of IHPR.
Results of the 17-page survey showed most boards strongly support public participation in health system decision making, with health promotion and disease prevention cited as areas of greatest concern. Only about a third of the members were satisfied with the accomplishments of their boards, however.
Survey respondents rated communication between health boards and the Ministry of Health as inadequate overall. Members also reported varying levels of support from stakeholders such as health professionals and special interest groups.
The survey of 20 boards is part of a four-year project funded by the provincial and federal governments to look at community participation in health decisions.
"We're looking at the tools and strategies boards use, how they communicate and how they measure success," says Frankish. "Our aim is to develop a framework for understanding community participation in health decision making."
Regional health boards were created following the 1993 health reform policy New Directions. There are now 12 regional boards.
The survey, conducted in the fall of 1996, showed most board members have a broad background of community involvement with high levels of previous experience on health, social service, school or politically affiliated boards.
Survey results were presented to all regional health boards, the Ministry of Health and various academic groups.
The IHPR expects to release the results of a second survey by early summer.