Methods: The Transformation of Indigenous Primary Healthcare Delivery (FORGE AHEAD) Program partners with 11 First Nations communities across six provinces in Canada to develop and evaluate community-driven quality improvement (QI) initiatives to enhance chronic disease care. FORGE AHEAD is a 5-year research program (2013–2017) that utilizes a pre-post mixed-methods observational design rooted in participatory research principles to work with communities in developing culturally relevant innovations and improved access to available services. This intensive program incorporates a series of 10 inter-related and progressive program activities designed to foster community-driven initiatives with type 2 diabetes mellitus as the action disease. Preparatory activities include a national community profile survey, best practice and policy literature review, and readiness tool development. Community-level intervention activities include community and clinical readiness consultations, development of a diabetes registry and surveillance system, and QI activities. With a focus on capacity building, all community-level activities are driven by trained community members who champion QI initiatives in their community. Program wrap-up activities include readiness tool validation, cost-analysis and process evaluation. In collaboration with Health Canada and the Aboriginal Diabetes Initiative, scale-up toolkits will be developed in order to build on lessons-learned, tools and methods, and to fuel sustainability and spread of successful innovations.
Discussion: The outcomes of this research program, its related cost and the subsequent policy recommendations, will have the potential to significantly affect future policy decisions pertaining to chronic disease care in First Nations communities in Canada.