Patient involvement in health research: a contribution to a systematic review on the effectiveness of treatments for degenerative ataxias

Soc Sci Med. 2009 Sep;69(6):920-5. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2009.07.005. Epub 2009 Jul 31.


This study aims to incorporate patients' perspective in the design of a systematic review of scientific literature on the effectiveness of degenerative ataxias (DA) treatments. 53 patients with DA from different regions of Spain were consulted using the Delphi method, with three rounds via e-mail. In the first round, obtained information was on treatments used and relevant self-perceived health problems related to DA. The following two rounds were used to prioritize and achieve a consensus on the answers. The participation rate was 100% for all rounds. The most relevant self-perceived health problems were limitations in activities of daily living (ADL), visual and auditory problems and diminished self-esteem. The bibliographic search for the systematic review was enriched by these patient contributions. No study offered information on treatment effectiveness for the following problems prioritized by patients: ADL, social relationships, disease acceptance and quality of life. Thus some of the self-perceived DA-related health problems identified by the patients have never been investigated and should be considered to improve future research projects which should be adapted to meet patients' needs. Effective participation of patients can extend the value of systematic reviews to ensure they respond to both clinicians' information needs and patients' expectations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ataxia / therapy*
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Delphi Technique
  • Disease Progression
  • Electronic Mail
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Participation*
  • Research Design
  • Review Literature as Topic*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome