Research priorities in health communication and participation: International survey of consumers and other stakeholders

Anneliese Synnot, Peter Bragge, Dianne Lowe, Jack S. Nunn, Molly O'Sullivan, Lidia Horvat, Allison Tong, Debra Kay, Davina Ghersi, Steve McDonald, Naomi Poole, Noni Bourke, Natasha Lannin, Danny Vadasz, Sandy Oliver, Karen Carey, Sophie J. Hill

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Objective To identify research priorities of consumers and other stakeholders to inform Cochrane Reviews in 'health communication and participation' (including such concepts as patient experience, shared decision-making and health literacy). Setting International. Participants We included anyone with an interest in health communication and participation. Up to 151 participants (18-80 years; 117 female) across 12 countries took part, including 48 consumers (patients, carers, consumer representatives) and 75 professionals (health professionals, policymakers, researchers) (plus 25 people who identified as both). Design Survey. Methods We invited people to submit their research ideas via an online survey open for 4 weeks. Using inductive thematic analysis, we generated priority research topics, then classified these into broader themes. Results Participants submitted 200 research ideas, which we grouped into 21 priority topics. Key research priorities included: Insufficient consumer involvement in research (19 responses), 'official' health information is contradictory and hard to understand (18 responses), communication/coordination breakdowns in health services (15 responses), health information provision a low priority for health professionals (15 responses), insufficient eliciting of patient preferences (14 responses), health services poorly understand/implement patient-centred care (14 responses), lack of holistic care impacting healthcare quality and safety (13 responses) and inadequate consumer involvement in service design (11 responses). These priorities encompassed acute and community health settings, with implications for policy and research. Priority populations of interest included people from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds, carers, and people with low educational attainment, or mental illness. Most frequently suggested interventions focused on training and cultural change activities for health services and health professionals. Conclusions Consumers and other stakeholders want research addressing structural and cultural challenges in health services (eg, lack of holistic, patient-centred, culturally safe care) and building health professionals' communication skills. Solutions should be devised in partnership with consumers, and focus on the needs of vulnerable groups.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere019481
Number of pages10
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018


  • Cochrane
  • communication
  • consumers
  • patient preference
  • research priorities
  • stakeholders

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