Home > Using Research > How can we plan for using research about patient views?

When making a plan on how to use research about patient views, you will need to balance resources, skills and time with the potential impact of that information on the guideline recommendations. Table 1 summarises the factors to balance when planning to use research about patient views.

Resources needed will depend on the evidence sources, and the amount and type of research available. Evidence about patient views can come from many sources (for example, journals, databases, websites, reports), consist of sparse individual studies or several reviews, span various study designs, and range in their relevance to the guideline topic. So, the plan could require a few to many resources to identify, synthesise, assess, present, and incorporate it into a guideline. The resources needed will also depend on whether the guideline group has capacity to use other methods to gather the evidence. If the existing evidence is limited in scope or relevance, guideline groups may decide to gather their own information about patient views through consultation with an advisory group, guideline panel members, or the general public. Or, they may gather information through primary research by conducting focus groups and interviews. Generally, consultation and primary research may provide evidence that is directly applicable to the guideline, whereas using research that has been previously conducted or published could not be as directly applicable.

In addition, the research could have limited or considerable impact on the guideline recommendations. If there is little debate about the value patients consistently place on the outcomes critical for decision making, meaning that it would be likely to have little impact on the final recommendation, a guideline group may determine that searching for this research evidence may not be an efficient use of resources.

Table 1 Factors to balance when planning to use research about patient views

ResourcesThe time, budget, and expertise available to gather, synthesise, assess and present the research.
ImpactThe research could have a large or small impact on the final recommendations.
SourcesAvailable sources of research may be different depending on the topic (for example, databases, websites, organisations).
AmountThe amount of research, which can range from sparse to many systematic reviews.
RelevanceHow applicable the available research evidence may be to the guideline topic or specific recommendation.
Alternative sourcesThe capacity and resources to obtain patient views from other sources, such as by patient consultation or by conducting primary research.