Priority setting FAQ

Priority setting - frequently asked questions
Priority setting - frequently asked questions

 

General questions

 

Planning priority setting

 

Engaging stakeholders

 

Priority setting methods

 

General questions

How can we learn from the experiences of other groups, (including what wasn’t successful)?

There are priority setting case studies on the KT learning resources page. We have tried to make these as balanced as possible to include both what has worked well and what challenges the groups have experienced.

It is useful to learn from other groups but what has, or hasn’t, been successful for one group’s priority setting, may be different for another group -  it all depends on the situation. Different situations may call for different approaches.

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Planning priority setting

Help! My group has a huge scope – how do I prioritise across the whole scope?

  • Not all of the scope has to be handled at the same time. You might want to select an area, topic or theme and do a simple process for each bit. 
  • There are many factors which could be used to guide decisions about what areas to focus on, which include (but are not limited to); burden of disease, evidence gaps as identified looking across the portfolio, areas where there are primary studies but no reviews, areas of inequalities etc. There is no ‘right’ answer but the decisions made should be justified and transparent.
  • One option is to first prioritise the topic areas within the scope of the group and then focus on each one in turn over the period of years.
  • If you are working on the whole scope you need to consider which stakeholders to include. Some groups may have a specific interest in focussing on one area of the scope and if they are the only external voice, this may be biased towards that topic area. A balance needs to be found between the review topics about comparisons of treatment interventions and ones about areas of care. It is sometimes difficult to know how to value one priority over another.  Groups have found that being pragmatic but clear is the best option.

How do we start to plan a priority setting process?

  • Firstly put together the priority steering group, and as a group think about the aim of the prioritisation process and what resources are available. 
  • Have a look at the headings in the Guidance note, these might help to structure thinking around what the plan should contain.
  • We have provided some examples of documents from priority setting that have been used by Cochrane groups on the KT learning resources website (add address when that page is live). We are always looking for more examples so please contact Karen Head (khead@cochrane.org) if you have any you wish to submit.

How can we find extra resources to do a more thorough priority setting process?

  • Look out for grants, for example from the NIHR UK Cochrane Programme Grant programme.  Including stakeholders in helping to shape and write the grant shows the engagement of a wider audience and may be a win-win for both the Cochrane group and the stakeholder. Letters of support from the stakeholders strengthens applications. Do remember to keep stakeholders informed on the progress of the application.
  • For example: Tobacco Addition Group (TAG) received funding from the NIHR School of Primary Care Research who also helped with the dissemination of the work.
  • Think about working with stakeholder organisations – there may be possibilities to share resources and/or funding, or to link with other, existing meetings.
  • If you are working with stakeholder groups for any other aspect of your Cochrane work, are you able to incorporate priority setting into this work? For example, adding prioritisation into a meeting to establish a core outcome set. 

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Engaging stakeholders

Where to start thinking about engaging stakeholder for priority setting?

  • It may be useful to think of the aim of the prioritisation process; this might help guide which stakeholder(s) to ask.
  • There is guidance for Cochrane groups relating to developing stakeholder engagement (partnerships).
  • Existing partnerships can prove useful as a starting point, particularly for a quick priority setting process.
  • Don’t forget the Cochrane network! Other Cochrane Groups, Networks, Fields and Centres may be able to help provide links to stakeholders or have useful input into the process.
  • One suggestion to identify potentially interested stakeholder groups including professional bodies is to look at the published stakeholder lists from relevant UK NICE guidelines/guidance (technology appraisals) or those who endorse other NICE products. Although this may be particularly relevant to UK groups, there may be guidelines in other countries which have similar processes in publishing stakeholder lists. Registering as a stakeholder on relevant guidelines keeps you up to date on their production too.
  • One group included big, national stakeholder organisations as these had more resources and experience of this type of priority setting work and were more likely to become engaged.  They had large networks of people with the condition of interest which was used to alert to the online survey. Larger organisations are more likely to have a funding stream for primary research which means they might have interest and experience in researching priority topics.
  • Contacts through professional societies may be able to help.
  • If you have a Comms Officer they may be able to help advertise through social media.
  • Networking through professional networks or conferences? The TAG group went to a related conference, used flyers at the conference and presented a poster to advertise their prioritisation work.

We would like to involve consumers as a stakeholder – how can we do that?

  • We have several case studies on the KT learning website where Cochrane groups have actively engaged consumers, in particular:
    • Cochrane Heart used online surveys.
    • Cochrane Consumers and Communication actively engaged consumers at all stages of their process.
    • Cochrane Epilepsy and Cochrane Movement Disorders have both used online surveys to ask consumers about their priorities. Both surveys were disseminated through large UK based charities who had existing network of consumers.  They wanted to ask people with direct experience of the conditions so, rather than using the general distribution list, they focussed the survey to the subset of people who were on the charities specific research network mailing lists.
  • Using social media to disseminate surveys has proved successful for some groups. This has included following key users, using hashtags or short hand language that may engage consumers in ‘convo’ (conversations).  Information on the Cochrane websites is also useful.
  • Whenever you are running surveys you do need to be careful about what information you are asking for and ensuring that you are following the data protection laws and best practice.  It is helpful to think about what information is important to capture and what you are going to do with it.
  • Work with an organisation with existing direct links to consumers such as the James Lind Alliance (JLA). Their website includes a guidebook which discusses each step of their process.
  • Using a general email forum to invite consumers who live within a local area and who have a specific lived experience with a condition has worked well for some groups.

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Priority setting methods

Prioritisation process – what methods to use that aren’t Delphi?

We know that other organisations have completed prioritisation exercises – can we use those exercises

  • Looking at well-conducted exercises from other organisation (for example the James Lind Alliance) can be very helpful in informing the process and can be used as one of the inputs to the Cochrane priority process. It should be remembered that the aim of those exercises may be different to the aims of your group.
  • In order to get a review title on the Cochrane Priority Review List, just taking the results of an external exercise, in which there was no Cochrane involvement, does not meet the mandatory requirements.
  • There are other benefits of running a prioritisation process such as directly engaging with different stakeholder groups.
  • Working together with other organisations (such as the James Lind Alliance) to jointly run a prioritisation exercise is acceptable.

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