Priority setting for systematic reviews of interventions for communicable and non-communicable diseases in West Africa: the impact of consumer involvement

Oduwole OA1, Effa E2, Meremikwu MM3
1Institute of Tropical Diseases Research and Prevention, University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, 2Department of Medicine,University of Calabar, 3Department of Paediatrics, University of Calabar

Background:

To a large extent, Africa - especially sub-Saharan African countries - bears most of the global burden of both communicable and non-communicable diseases. Therefore, it is important to set priorities for systematic reviews of interventions for identified priority conditions, so that scarce and limited resources can be allocated where they are most needed. In recognition of this reality, Cochrane Nigeria conducted priority setting for systematic reviews of interventions that will focus on health problems that are important to Africans.

The aim of this priority setting exercise, therefore, was to identify priority topics for systematic reviews that address issues related to communicable and non-communicable diseases in West African countries.

Objectives:

To identify priority topics for systematic reviews of interventions for communicable and non-communicable diseases in Anglophone West Africa countries.

Methods:

The key steps were identification of regional priority health topics by key informants across West Africa. Stakeholders, including health professionals and consumer representatives such as the Chairman of the Association of persons living positively with HIV in Cross River State, a patient being managed for substance abuse, a family member of a patient with stroke and a consumer advocate, were involved in the nomination of systematic review topics. We searched electronic databases for literature to identify gaps. We presented review questions that had not been published, or were out of date, to stakeholders to be ranked on the basis of pre-specified criteria

Results:

Twenty-nine key informants from four West African countries responded to the electronic survey in the first round. Overall, the panelists considered 21 health problems in four categories for review topics. Eighty–eight (63%) out of 140 stakeholders responded in the second round of survey to the questionnaires and ranked the review questions.

Conclusions:

Most of the highly ranked priority systematic review questions were targeted at interventions aimed to prevent diseases and promote adherence to treatment.

Patient or healthcare consumer involvement:

The involvement of the consumers in this priority-setting exercise helped to bring to the fore topics that would have been overlooked by other stakeholders.