Lessons learned from developing an evidence-based guideline for psychosocial support by Red Cross volunteers: Involving end users throughout the process
2Belgian Red Cross, Belgium
Background: Organisations such as youth movements or companies regularly request trained volunteers from the Belgian Red Cross to provide group psychosocial support after the occurrence of potentially traumatic events.
Objectives: The Belgian Red Cross’ Social Intervention Service and the Centre for Evidence-Based Practice (CEBaP) have updated the manual that is used to train volunteers in providing psychosocial support according to the principles of evidence-based practice. This manual was revised given that it was previously developed based on expert opinion.
Methods: CEBaP researchers performed a systematic literature search of existing systematic reviews using The Cochrane Library, MEDLINE, Embase, and PsycNET to collect evidence on the effectiveness of acute, brief, and preventive psychosocial or psychological group interventions after potentially traumatic events. Evidence conclusions were translated into recommendations, which were discussed with an expert panel consisting of Red Cross volunteers (i.e., the end users), academic researchers, and practitioners.
Results: We identified eight observational and seven experimental studies providing evidence of low to very low certainty. Previous recommendations needed significant changes based on the evidence conclusions, the input from the expert panel, and existing evidence-based guidelines. These were, however, not in line with the Red Cross volunteers’ previous experiences with providing psychosocial support, which complicated the acceptance and implementation of the new recommendations.
Conclusions: This experience highlights the crucial aspect of building evidence users’ trust in evidence. Apart from involving end users in the expert panel, we believe that trust can be increased by engaging users early on and continuously during the process of evidence-based practice and by explaining the principles, strengths, and limitations of evidence-based methodology at the start of the process. In return, input and feedback from experienced users may provide valuable insights for evidence synthesizers.
Patient, public and/or healthcare consumer involvement: Although these interactions require a considerable time investment, they may benefit all parties, including researchers, evidence implementers, and the target audience.