• Open Access

Prioritizing research needs based on a systematic evidence review: a pilot process for engaging stakeholders


Rachel Gold PhD, MPH
Research Associate III
Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research
3800 N. Interstate Avenue
OR 97227
E-mail: Rachel.Gold@kpchr.org


Background/context  Systematic evidence reviews (SERs) identify knowledge gaps in the literature, a logical starting place for prioritizing future research. Varied methods have been used to elicit diverse stakeholders’ input in such prioritization.

Objective  To pilot a simple, easily replicable process for simultaneously soliciting consumer, clinician and researcher input in the identification of research priorities, based on the results of the 2009 SER on screening adults for depression in primary care.

Methods  We recruited 20 clinicians, clinic staff, researchers and patient advocates to participate in a half-day event in October 2009. We presented SER research methods and the results of the 2009 SER. Participants took part in focus groups, organized by profession; broad themes from these groups were then prioritized in a formal exercise. The focus group content was also subsequently analysed for specific themes.

Results  Focus group themes generally reacted to the evidence presented; few were articulated as research questions. Themes included the need for resources to respond to positive depression screens, the impact of depression screening on delivery systems, concerns that screening tools do not address comorbid or situational causes of depression and a perceived ‘disconnect’ between screening and treatment. The two highest-priority themes were the system effects of screening for depression and whether depression screening effectively leads to improved treatment.

Conclusion  We successfully piloted a simple, half-day, easily replicable multi-stakeholder engagement process based on the results of a recent SER. We recommend a number of potential improvements in future endeavours to replicate this process.