Funding Priorities: Autism and the Need for a More Balanced Research Agenda in Canada

Public Health Ethics 5 (3):296-310 (2012)
Abstract
The public purse is responsible for funding almost all autism spectrum disorders (ASD) research in Canada (as per Canadian Institutes of Health Research [CIHR]) and for providing some of the existing services and supports for this population. In this article, we consider various reasons why Canada should be concerned to ensure a more equitable distribution of relevant public funding for ASD research than is currently the case to meet the express needs and interests of the diversity of autism stakeholders. As such, we report data to show that CIHR-supported ASD research from the period of 2000–2010 demonstrates a bias focussed on the aetiology of the condition revealing a disproportionate emphasis on only two (Biomedical and Clinical) out of the four research pillars avowed by CIHR, with a comparative lack of fiscal resources committed to Health Systems and Services and Population and Public Health research. We advance certain normative and prudential reasons for funding more Health Systems and Services and Population and Public Health ASD research in Canada. In our view, this would seem to follow from CIHR’s official mandate ‘as a flexible mechanism that will continually align health research funding with changes in the manner in which health problems and opportunities are identified, understood and addressed’
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