Health research priority setting in selected high income countries: a narrative review of methods used and recommendations for future practice
Cost Effectiveness and Resource Allocation
Research priority setting aims to gain consensus about areas where research effort will have wide benefits to society. While general principles for setting health research priorities have been suggested, there has been no critical review of the different approaches used. This review aims to: (i) examine methods, models and frameworks used to set health research priorities; (ii) identify barriers and facilitators to priority setting processes; and (iii) determine the outcomes of priority setting
... processes in relation to their objectives and impact on policy and practice. Medline, Cochrane, and PsycINFO databases were searched for relevant peer-reviewed studies published from 1990 to March 2012. A review of grey literature was also conducted. Priority setting exercises that aimed to develop population health and health services research priorities conducted in Australia, New Zealand, North America, Europe and the UK were included. Two authors extracted data from identified studies. Eleven diverse priority setting exercises across a range of health areas were identified. Strategies including calls for submission, stakeholder surveys, questionnaires, interviews, workshops, focus groups, roundtables, the Nominal Group and Delphi technique were used to generate research priorities. Nine priority setting exercises used a core steering or advisory group to oversee and supervise the priority setting process. None of the models conducted a systematic assessment of the outcomes of the priority setting processes, or assessed the impact of the generated priorities on policy or practice. A number of barriers and facilitators to undertaking research priority setting were identified. The methods used to undertake research priority setting should be selected based upon the context of the priority setting process and time and resource constraints. Ideally, priority setting should be overseen by a multi-disciplinary advisory group, involve a broad representation of stakeholders, utilise objective and clearly defined criteria for generating priorities, and be evaluated.