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.
Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.