Prioritization of evidence gaps using the James Lind Alliance method

Why do we need to set priorities for evidence gaps?

The purpose of this type of project is to highlight the perspectives of patients and clinicians in discussions as to which research questions should be given priority. In this context, the opinions of researchers, research funders and commercial agents are often more self-evident. However, it is also important to ascertain which research questions matter most to patients and clinicians i.e., which topics are considered highly relevant by the end-users. In 2009, Chalmers et al. calculated that as much as 85 per cent of research funds awarded to practice-oriented research yields study results which are not applicable in practice for patients or healthcare personnel. One contributing factor is that questions which are important to these end-users are not given priority in research.

The method applied in these prioritisation projects is derived from the non-profit British organization James Lind Alliance (JLA) . It supports the process of convening patients and clinicians in joint research priority setting exercises or priority setting partnerships (PSP).

Briefly, these projects consist of the following steps:

  • Identification of research questions through an open survey
  • A two-round Delphi survey with relevant stakeholders (i.e., patients, professionals, and researchers)
  • A final prioritization in a priority setting meeting, where the highest ranked questions from the Delphi survey are discussed

Schematic illustration of the design of the project

Figure 1. Schematic illustration of the design of the project

Published SBU reports involving prioritization of research questions