Stakeholder involvement in systematic reviews: a protocol for a systematic review of methods, outcomes and effects
Background There is an expectation for stakeholders (including patients, the public, health professionals, and others) to be involved in research. Researchers are increasingly recognising that it is good practice to involve stakeholders in systematic reviews. There is currently a lack of evidence about (A) how to do this and (B) the effects, or impact, of such involvement. We aim to create a map of the evidence relating to stakeholder involvement in systematic reviews, and use this evidence to address the two points above. Methods We will complete a mixed-method synthesis of the evidence, first completing a scoping review to create a broad map of evidence relating to stakeholder involvement in systematic reviews, and secondly completing two contingent syntheses. We will use a stepwise approach to searching; the initial step will include comprehensive searches of electronic databases, including CENTRAL, AMED, Embase, Medline, Cinahl and other databases, supplemented with pre-defined hand-searching and contacting authors. Two reviewers will undertake each review task (i.e., screening, data extraction) using standard systematic review processes. For the scoping review, we will include any paper, regardless of publication status or study design, which investigates, reports or discusses involvement in a systematic review. Included papers will be summarised within structured tables. Criteria for judging the focus and comprehensiveness of the description of methods of involvement will be applied, informing which papers are included within the two contingent syntheses. Synthesis A will detail the methods that have been used to involve stakeholders in systematic reviews. Papers from the scoping review that are judged to provide an adequate description of methods or approaches will be included. Details of the methods of involvement will be extracted from included papers using pre-defined headings, presented in tables and described narratively. Synthesis B will include studies that explore the effect of stakeholder involvement on the quality, relevance or impact of a systematic review, as identified from the scoping review. Study quality will be appraised, data extracted and synthesised within tables. Discussion This review should help researchers select, improve and evaluate methods of involving stakeholders in systematic reviews. Review findings will contribute to Cochrane training resources.