Patient and public involvement (PPI) is common in primary research, but less widespread in systematic reviews (SRs). We invited consumer partners to contribute to a SR and network meta-analysis investigating the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of interventions for hazardous and harmful alcohol consumption. This work built on two published SRs, therefore the review question and inclusion criteria were predetermined, but we wanted to explore other contributions that our consumer partners could make.
To explore how PPI could contribute to a SR and network meta-analysis when the inclusion criteria and methods were largely dictated by previous work.
We convened a PPI panel from Voice, which aims to capture the public's experience, ideas, opinions and expectations about research that affects their lives. We sent a lay summary of the project to these consumer partners in advance for information and comment. At the panel, the author (FB) briefly introduced the project and led a discussion for one hour using the following questions: (i) is there anything you do not understand? (ii) what concerns do you have about this project; is anything missing? (iii) what do you consider priority outcomes?
Sixteen consumer partners contributed to a vibrant discussion. They discussed some of the same methodological issues that had exercised the research team, including sources of heterogeneity in the populations and interventions. They also highlighted their priority outcomes, such as binge drinking, health outcomes and changes in understanding or knowledge about drinking (as a step towards changing consumption).
Our consumer partners were enthusiastic and provided useful insights into sources of heterogeneity and priority outcomes in a complex SR. As a result we will use binge drinking (as well as volume of drinking) as an outcome, and build other insights (such as cultural attitudes to drinking) into the SR discussion. Some of the points raised were interesting but beyond the scope of this project.
Patient or healthcare consumer involvement:
Our consumer partners engaged with a complex SR and provided useful input to guide the project. We invited a member of the panel to contribute to the final conference presentation. We will seek guidance on the interpretation of results from a further PPI panel.