Background: best practice for research prioritization requires the need to be transparent and justifiable, to fully involve the ‘users’, and systematically to address what is already known.
Objectives: to describe our National Institute for Health Research Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care South West (PenCLAHRC) research prioritization process and its contribution to increasing diversity and reducing research waste across the South West (UK).
Methods: research prioritization is a cornerstone of PenCLAHRC and has undergone several iterations over the last 10 years. Engagement in identifying our research questions occurs through evidence-based practice workshops with service users and clinicians from specialities around the region and through an online web-tool, available to all. We also hold theme- and issue-driven workshops for health practitioners and patient and public involvement groups to identify clinical or health service uncertainties. All questions received are then ranked. The ranking takes place in three phases held over 12 weeks: two managed electronically and the final phase in a face-to-face meeting with representatives of all stakeholders/users from the region.
Key strengths of the current PenCLAHRC prioritization process include:
- engagement with service users, clinicians and the public to identify uncertainties ensures a research portfolio of clinically relevant, locally tractable and patient-informed projects;
- involving representatives from all the partner organizations and service users in discussing and ranking uncertainties ensures that those that are prioritized meet the criteria agreed by the collaboration for meaningful and impactful research;
- incorporating knowledge of the existing research (using systematically produced rapid evidence summaries)
- involving evidence users throughout the design and delivery of the prioritized research projects highlights the need and champions the value of research findings.
Results: the PenCLAHRC research prioritization process has run seven times since 2009. Over that time, more than 430 questions have been considered, with over 20% of these originating from patients/public. Rapid evidence summaries of 73 of these have been prepared and discussed in face-to-face meetings. Of these, 30 became ongoing research projects and the findings of at least three of these have already resulted in significant practice change in health service delivery within the region.
Conclusions: our prioritization model incorporates key recommendations put forward by Chalmers et al (2014) on ‘Increasing value, reducing waste’; engaging users and the public, identifying what is already known and establishing what research is ongoing.
Patient or healthcare consumer involvement: patients and the public are able to submit questions for prioritization and a formal patient and public involvement group put forward two representatives to assist with the ranking.