Patient navigation practice (english)

What is patient navigation?

Patient navigation is a promising practice for reducing inequalities in access to care and services. Its overall goal is to help a user and his or her family navigate health and social services network and to promote the coordination of care and services. In addition to being a status that is increasingly attached to the job title of health and social services network workers, the navigation practice is a function that is used or has potential appeal in various sectors (education, justice, cultural communities, etc.).

Why this thematic dossier?

This dossier is intended to provide a forum for collective reflection on the nature and development of the practice of navigation practice in the Quebec health and social services network. It is the result of a research project conducted in collaboration with the five CIUSSS in the Montreal area and which aims to better understand the practice of navigation practice in the field of ID-ASD-RGD as well as to identify the practices most likely to meet the needs of children with an intellectual disability and/or an autism spectrum disorder (ID-ASD) and their families.

The goals of this dossier include:

  • Tool families, managers, practitioners, trainers and students
  • Stimulate reflection and discussion
  • Make research results accessible and actualize knowledge

The research

Patient Navigation for Children with ASD and Their Families: Evaluation of a Montreal Pilot Project

In order to obtain services in Québec’s health and social services network (RSSS), children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and their families have to face long waiting lists (sometimes the wait can be years long), knock on many doors (pediatrician, psychologist, CIUSSS, CRDI), contact different government ministries (health, education, transportation, families) and coordinate the various services for which they are eligible, as necessary. Patient navigation thus appears as a promising practice for facilitating formalities and procedures for families as well as their access to care and services and the coordination thereof.

Through interviews with families and patient navigators, observations of the practice, analysis of administrative data, and the findings of a survey conducted among affected parents, we were able to identify the concrete practices that constitute patient navigation in autism within the framework of a pilot project conducted in five Montreal-area CIUSSS. Turning next to the needs and expectations of families, we inquired as to whether these practices are satisfactory to them and adapted to their realities.

The four dimensions of patient navigation (tool)

The daily practice of navigators

This tool provides an overview of typical navigation tasks as identified by the research, and can be consulted for training, planning, or simply for information.

Chart of prioritization of navigation practices (tool)

The experience of families

This tool presents the typical navigation tasks according to the importance given to them by the families interviewed in the research, as well as the response to their needs.


This research project is the result of a call for proposals from the Centre for Innovation in Autism and Intellectual Disabilities (CIADI) of the Miriam Foundation, along with Quebec’s Ministry of Health and Social Services, the five CIUSSS on the Island of Montreal, and the Institut national d’excellence en santé et services sociaux (INESSS), which is responsible for the Montreal pilot project. 

The research team would like to thank the above-mentioned organizations and authorities for assigning us this project and making it possible to complete its various stages, especially through the financial support of the Miriam Foundation and the Azrieli Foundation.  

For their support and feedback, we also wish to thank the Scientific Committee and Work Committee, which included a variety of people throughout the project, as well as the department heads and program directors involved.  

A big thank you to all the patient navigators who generously welcomed us and brilliantly shared their passion for their practice, as well as the participating families who gave us their precious time.