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Health Policy. 2011 Oct;102(2-3):105-16. doi: 10.1016/j.healthpol.2011.05.002.

Public involvement in the systematic review process in health and social care: a narrative review of case examples.

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  • 1NIHR Research Design Service for Yorkshire and the Humber, United Kingdom.



To review the evidence on public involvement in the systematic review process in health and social care; to examine the different methods, levels and stages of involving the public; to synthesise the contributions of the public, as well as the identified tensions, facilitating strategies and recommendations for good practice.


Systematic literature search and narrative review.


Seven case examples were found covering the following review topics: patients' perspectives on electro-convulsive therapy; user involvement in nursing, midwifery and health visiting research; treatments for degenerative ataxias; teaching, learning and assessment of law in social work education; HIV health promotion for men who have sex with men; the conceptualisation, measurement, impact and outcomes of public involvement in health research; methods of consumer involvement in developing healthcare policy and research, clinical practice guidelines and patient information material. The public was found to contribute to systematic reviews by: refining the scope of the review; suggesting and locating relevant literature; appraising the literature; interpreting the review findings; writing up the review. Numerous tensions, facilitating strategies and recommendations were identified.


The issues raised in this paper should assist researchers in developing and conducting systematic reviews with the involvement of the public.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.

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