Working with public contributors to improve the patient experience at the Manchester Clinical Research Facility: an evaluation of the Experience Based Design approach
PLAIN ENGLISH SUMMARY Patients and researchers must work together to improve the relevance and quality of research. Qualitative systematic reviews synthesise findings from a range of published qualitative studies to identify common themes, and can make recommendations for practice or future research. The process of conducting a systemic review offers multiple opportunities for patient involvement.This paper explores the reflections of patient research partners involved in a qualitative systematic review. Patient partners were asked how their experience of the review process could be used to improve patient involvement in future qualitative systematic reviews. Following involvement in a systematic review an exploratory questionnaire was emailed to eight patient research partners. Open ended questions focussed on the training they had received, whether they had enjoyed taking part and how the process could be improved. Patients stated that they needed clear instructions and examples of how to take part in the systematic review. Face to face training was preferred, and it was important that patients were given enough time to complete the task. The study led to benefits for patients including gaining new skills and improved confidence. Each patient also wanted to know how their comments had influenced the paper and wanted feedback on whether they needed any further training. Through reflection with patient partners, recommendations for the involvement of patients in qualitative systematic reviews were developed to allow researchers to successfully involve patients in the review process. ABSTRACT Background Patient involvement in systematic reviews is seen as good practice, yet there is a lack of accessible standardised training for those involved. The aim of this paper is to inform the evidence base on effective ways of involving patients in a qualitative meta-synthesis. This process is evaluated and reflected by patient research partners (PRPs) who provided accounts of their experience. Methods An open ended questionnaire was emailed to eight PRPs who had participated in the analysis of a qualitative meta-synthesis. Questions focussed on the training they received, their experience of coding data and identifying themes, whether they enjoyed taking part in the project and how the process could be improved. Results Our findings point to the importance of detailed training for PRPs, using plain English and clear examples of analysis techniques to improve confidence in engaging with meta-synthesis methods. Face to face training was preferred in order to discuss a PRP's understanding of the task ahead. Time is an important consideration as PRPs often complete this work on top of their daily commitments and need the time and on-going support to be able to immerse themselves in the data. A focus group was a useful way to discuss the themes but it is important that PRPs understand how their comments have influenced the paper. PRPs reported benefits that included building new skills, improving confidence and gaining knowledge. They also asked for feedback on their contribution and any further training needs. All PRPs said they would take part in a meta-synthesis in the future as long as these considerations were addressed. Conclusion The recommendations for practice identified in this paper, and guidelines for training, can assist researchers in collaborating with PRPs when developing and conducting a qualitative meta-synthesis.