Background: Previous studies have suggested that research agendas can be biased. To determine whether there is a mismatch between available research evidence and the research preferences of consumers we examined research on interventions for the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee joint.
Methods: We searched published and unpublished studies on interventions in this condition to assess the structure of the evidence base. Focus groups and a postal survey of research consumers were then undertaken to examine their views and research priorities.
Findings: Review of published and unpublished reports showed that the evidence base was dominated by studies of pharmaceutical (550, 59%) and surgical (238, 26%) interventions. 24 (36%) of 67 survey respondents ranked knee replacement as the highest priority for research, whereas 14 (21%) chose education and advice as their first choice.
Interpretation: There is a mismatch between the amount of published work on different interventions, and the degree of interest of consumers. We suggest that broadening of the research agenda would be more in line with current treatment patterns and consumer views. If this mismatch is not addressed, then evidence-based medicine will not be representative of consumer needs.