Canadian Medical Association

Physicians often work together within informal and formal interest groups to address health issues. These “communities of interest” can help us move closer toward our vision of a vibrant profession and a healthy population. That makes fostering and supporting them a key strategy for the CMA.

With this survey, we wanted to better understand what our members are working on, the successes they’ve had and the barriers they’ve faced. The results gave us the insights we needed to design programs and services that support the work our members are already doing.

September 2017

Distributed to:
3,696 e-Panel members


Response rate:

Want to share your perspective? Visit the CMA Member Voice e-Panel page for more information on how to participate in future surveys.

Multiple similar initiatives building in isolation with lack of awareness of others [is a] lost opportunity for collaboration, which would save time and money.

-Member Voice e-Panel respondent

What members said

Participation in communities of interest

47% of respondents currently collaborate with formal and informal communities to address system, patient or professional issues. They interact with their communities via email, teleconference and in person:

  • 35.8% tend to do so at least once per month
  • 31.8% tend to do so at least once per week

47% of respondents aren’t working in groups or communities, but remain connected to peers and concerned about topics affecting the system and the profession. Nearly 50% said they were likely or very likely to join an existing and easily accessible community where a health-system, patient, or professional issue that they care about — such as medical education, health system resources — was being addressed.

Community size and composition

The vast majority (86%) of respondents’ communities include less than 50 people, with a diverse composition of stakeholders:

  • 57% include health professionals
  • 43% include patients in their work

I feel quite strongly that patients and patient groups should play a strong role in knowledge translation in health and health care. We should do more to engage non-physicians, including patients and other health care professionals.

- Member Voice e-Panel respondent

Success factors and barriers

The most important aspect of this research was identifying success factors and barriers physicians face when working to address system, patient and professional issues. 70% of respondents see a role for provincial and national medical associations to facilitate success and reduce barriers.

Success factors included:

  • Collaboration with other stakeholders (48%)
  • Access to resources (46%)
  • Time to dedicate to the issue (41%)

What’s next

We learned that physicians need a better way to connect with other physicians who are passionate about addressing issues the same issues they are.

To meet this need, we’re developing a community engagement approach to help CMA members and other stakeholders discuss important health issues and work toward solutions. The CMA Community of Interest Grant program, launched in 2018, is the first stage. That program offers CMA members funding, strategic advice and coaching to help them lead communities of interest and address key issues.

Other e-Panel survey summaries

See what CMA members had to say about other health topics:

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