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J Clin Epidemiol. 2013 May;66(5):496-502.e2. doi: 10.1016/j.jclinepi.2012.04.002. Epub 2012 Jul 18.

Effective stakeholder participation in setting research priorities using a Global Evidence Mapping approach.

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National Trauma Research Institute, Department of Surgery, The Alfred Hospital and Monash University, Level 4, 89 Commercial Road, Melbourne 3004, Australia.



We present a multistep process for identifying priority research areas in rehabilitation and long-term care of traumatic brain-injured (TBI) patients. In particular, we aimed to (1) identify which stakeholders should be involved; (2) identify what methods are appropriate; (3) examine different criteria for the generation of research priority areas; and (4) test the feasibility of linkage and exchange among researchers, decision makers, and other potential users of the research.


Potential research questions were identified and developed using an initial scoping meeting and preliminary literature search, followed by a facilitated mapping workshop and an online survey. Identified research questions were then prioritized against specific criteria (clinical importance, novelty, and controversy). Existing evidence was then mapped to the high-priority questions using usual processes for search, screening, and selection. A broad range of stakeholders were then brought together at a forum to identify priority research themes for future research investment. Using clinical and research leaders, smaller targeted planning workshops prioritized specific research projects for each of the identified themes.


Twenty-six specific questions about TBI rehabilitation were generated, 14 of which were high priority. No one method identified all high-priority questions. Methods that relied solely on the views of clinicians and researchers identified fewer high-priority questions compared with methods that used broader stakeholder engagement. Evidence maps of these high-priority questions yielded a number of evidence gaps. Priority questions and evidence maps were then used to inform a research forum, which identified 12 priority themes for future research.


Our research demonstrates the value of a multistep and multimethod process involving many different types of stakeholders for prioritizing research to improve the rehabilitation outcomes of people who have suffered TBI. Enhancing stakeholder representation can be augmented using a combination of methods and a process of linkage and exchange. This process can inform decisions about prioritization of research areas.

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