Objectives: We explored public preferences for involvement in health policy decisions, across the contexts of medical research and healthcare.

Approach: We e-surveyed a sample of Canadians, categorizing respondents by preferences for decision control: (1) more authority; (2) more input; (3) status quo. Two generalized ordered logistic regressions assessed influences on preferences.

Results: The participation rate was 94%; 1,102 completed responses met quality criteria. The dominant preference was for more input (average = 52.0%), followed by status quo (average = 24.9%) and more authority (average = 21.1%), though preferences for more control were higher in healthcare (57.2%) than medical research (46.8%). Preferences for greater control were associated with constructs related to reduced trust in healthcare systems.

Conclusion: The public expects health policy to account for public views, but not base decisions primarily on these views. More involvement was expected in healthcare than medical research policy. As opportunities for public involvement in health research grow, we anticipate increased desired involvement.