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Advice line: setting research priorities

Gabrielle Rankin is excited by a project that unites patients, carers and clinicians to set research priorities.

The James Lind Alliance (JLA) physiotherapy priority setting partnership (PSP) has launched the top 10 priorities for physiotherapy research (more information in news and on the website). JLA PSPs bring together patients, carers and clinicians to identify and prioritise unanswered questions in different areas of healthcare. 
Patients and carers have been equal partners with physiotherapists throughout the project, sitting on the steering group, suggesting and then prioritising research questions.  We will now work together to promote the findings.
We embarked on this partnership with some trepidation. Would enough patients and carers engage with the project? Yes –half of the 2,151 questions put forward came from patients, carers and the public. Would patients and physios respect each other’s views in open and honest discussions or might it be seen as an opportunity to complain? Yes – everyone involved has shown enthusiasm and passion for physiotherapy and worked collaboratively with an altruistic approach.
As a result, this project is about more than research. It gives us a unique insight into what matters most to patients about physiotherapy: at what point is physiotherapy most effective for them and what is the impact of waiting? What helps them to make changes and manage their own health? What are the best ways to deliver services? How do patients’ and physiotherapists’ expectations related to recovery compare?

These findings can be used in many ways

  • consider the priorities in relation to your services
  • what evidence do we already have and do you apply it?
  • how could you improve your service?
  • how do you measure how well your services address the priorities?
  • do you find ways to engage with your patients and involve them in planning your services?
  • could you use patients and their stories to help make your case for your services? 
The input from patients and carers has made this a critical set of co-priorities, which we will be progressing. See
  • Dr Gabrielle Rankin is CSP research adviser

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