Engaging Citizen Partners within a Rapid Review Process
2National Collaborating Centre for Methods and Tools, McMaster University, McMaster Innovation Park, 175 Longwood Rd S, Suite 210a, Hamilton ON, L8P 0A1, Canada; School of Nursing, McMaster University, Health Sciences Centre, 2J20, 1280 Main St W, Hamilton, Canada
Background: Rapid reviews seek to answer pressing policy and practice questions by providing time-sensitive evidence syntheses as a basis for decision making. However, they often lack insights from people who are most affected. To improve the relevance of rapid reviews to the public, the National Collaborating Centre for Methods and Tools’ (NCCMT) Rapid Evidence Service (RES) invites public partners to participate in the development of rapid evidence reviews on various public health topics. This engagement process is developed for public partners to make meaningful contributions throughout the review process while maintaining accelerated timelines.
Objectives: The NCCMT’s RES quickly responds to public health decision makers’ requests for syntheses of the best available evidence on priority public health topics within a limited timeframe, which supports public health decision making. Reviews are made accessible and relevant to the public by incorporating the perspectives of people who may be most affected by the subsequent decisions.
Methods: Public partners were identified through a pool of interested individuals, including healthcare consumers and other members of the public, and were compensated for their time. The process began with an initial call to orient them to the review question and hear their perspectives on the topic. Following the evidence search, quality appraisal, and synthesis conducted by the NCCMT team, a draft was circulated to partners to review and provide feedback. Comments and insights into research gaps and policy and practice implications were then incorporated into the summary. Partners were given a final opportunity for review before publication.
Results: Twenty public partners were successfully engaged across 14 rapid evidence reviews, bringing unique perspectives that improved the relevance of reviews.
Conclusions: Rapid reviews benefit from involvement of people with lived experience throughout the evidence synthesis process. The NCCMT’s RES successfully engages public partners with lived and professional experience in rapid evidence syntheses, thus addressing a significant gap in the evidence synthesis and decision-making process.
Patient, public and/or healthcare consumer involvement: Public and healthcare consumers were engaged in the rapid review process.