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

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


Objectives: 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.

Method: Systematic literature search and narrative review.

Findings: 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.

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

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Community Participation*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Group Processes
  • Health Policy
  • Humans
  • Research Design*
  • Research*
  • Review Literature as Topic*