Systematic reviews to inform health and social care policy: Incorporating patient and public perspectives
2Peninsula Patient and Public Engagement Group, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, University of Exeter, UK
Background: The Exeter Policy Research Programme Evidence Review Facility is commissioned to produce systematic reviews to inform health and social care policy. With the focus and direction of each review determined by the priorities of our government stakeholders, it is vital our processes incorporate perspectives from patients and members of the public.
Objectives: Discuss our experiences of incorporating the perspectives of patients and members of the public into systematic reviews commissioned to inform government policy. A public collaborator will co-present this presentation.
Methods: Patient and public involvement and engagement (PPIE) is embedded within our organisational structure and throughout the review process. A public collaborator is a core member of our team, and we have a standing PPIE group of 15 individuals with an interest in the production and use of evidence syntheses for decision-making. Supported by our PPIE facilitator, they are involved in early scoping and refinement of research requests and development of an involvement plan. Further involvement from individuals with specific topic–related lived experience is sought as projects develop. Training needs of patient and public collaborators are observed with bespoke training to address areas of uncertainty provided by the research team. Reporting of PPIE activities and their impact on the review process and presentation of findings are standard components of all our outputs.
Results: Delivering evidence syntheses to inform government policy involves lengthy negotiations to develop focused research questions, alongside changing research priorities and political sensitivity. In this context, incorporating meaningful PPIE throughout the review process can be challenging. The broad scope of topics and fast-paced nature of the work adds further complexity. Embedding PPIE within our organisational structure as well as having a flexible and responsive approach ensures we maximise opportunities for incorporating patient and public perspectives. Embedding PPIE within our organisation empowers patient and public representatives to have their say on issues which matter to them.
Conclusions: Patients and members of the public make an invaluable contribution towards our work. Although involvement within the process of conducting reviews for policymakers is not always straightforward, their insights help ensure that government policy reflects the needs of individuals using UK health and social care services.