Whole-of-scope priority setting project

Today we launch a report on our 'whole-of-scope' priority-setting work.

One hundred uncertainties submitted by the public were ranked by a group of stakeholders - the Cochrane AIrways Priority-setting group (CAPSG). The top uncertainties were interventions to prevent asthma deaths, evidence mapping exercise for COPD, and interventions to help parents learn about how to help children with long term respiratory conditions.

Emma Dennett, who led the project, said “we are excited to have included the views of so many people who live with long term respiratory conditions and people who care for them. As review topics emerge from the literature searches we are doing, I am looking forward to seeing how the public have directly shaped our work, causing us to look at and present our evidence in new ways”.

Nicki Ridgeway who is a member of the CAPSG said"It was great to have the opportunity to contribute to such an important activity from a patient perspective. I work in health research but to contribute a patient's perspective allowed me to gain really valuable insight. It was fascinating to hear about everyones' different priorities when discussing the uncertainties. I really appreciated the opportunity to participate, thank you."

What did we do?

This project has been running since June 2019. First, we gathered uncertainties from the public – including patients, carers, healthcare professionals, and researchers from a survey run on social media. The survey invited the public to submit their own questions about respiratory health. Then we convened a stakeholder group, called the Cochrane Airways Priority-Setting Group (CAPSG), to rank these uncertainties. After two rounds of voting, the group agreed on 12 uncertainties that they felt we should take forwards.

Because we had 100 uncertainties to rank, it was not possible for the Cochrane Airways team to provide information about each uncertainty, such as whether there was already an existing review, whether there were trials available to answer the question, or even to break the uncertainties down into one or more suitable questions to be answered by a systematic review. Therefore the CAPSG ranked the questions blind to this information. This was both a strength and a limitation of the project.

We have also been working up the uncertainties into questions that can be answered by a systematic review. We have done this by running literature searches and looking at the existing research. To find out more click here.

Converting uncertainties into systematic review questions

We developed two ways to gather and display information to help us decide about what reviews would be needed for each uncertainty.

  1. ‘Scoping search report’. We have developed a protocol for a scoping search report which will enable us to run searches around a particular PICO or set of PICOs and report the trials found. In turn, this scoping search report will allow a decision to be taken on what reviews should be done to answer the uncertainty.
  2. ‘Overview table’. An overview table aims to pull together the current Cochrane Reviews addressing a particular uncertainty and to assess how many new trials there may be for inclusion in an update. This will allow us to identify reviews that need to be updated. The production of the scoping search reports and the overview tables may generate a range of topics that would need further consideration by the CAPSG during the rolling priority-setting programme.

Next steps

The rolling project will consider the key new questions and updates of reviews identified from our existing work scanning for new research, the updating classification project, review proposals, and requests from guideline producers. 

For more information see the full report and list of the top 12 uncertainties. See also the project plan.