Introduction: Professional societies, like many other organizations around the world, have recognized the need to use rigorous processes to ensure that healthcare recommendations are informed by the best available research evidence. They are also realizing the need to involve consumers of healthcare (patients, caregivers, and the public) and integrate their values and preferences in clinical guideline development. This is the eighth of a series of 14 articles that were prepared to advise guideline developers in respiratory and other diseases. It focuses on where to find information about consumer values and preferences, at what points in the guideline development process to integrate their values and preferences, and why.
Methods: In this review, we addressed the following questions: (1) What do we mean by "consumers"? (2) Why integrate the values and preferences of consumers of healthcare (patients, caregivers, and the public) into clinical practice guidelines? (3) What are the sources of information on consumer values? (4) When and how should consumer values and preferences be integrated into chronic obstructive pulmonary disease guideline recommendations? We defined consumers as patients, caregivers, and members of the public, excluding groups that may also be identified as consumers of guidelines including health professionals, providers, and commissioners of services. We searched PubMed and other databases of methodological studies for existing systematic reviews and relevant methodological research. We did not conduct systematic reviews ourselves. Our conclusions are based on available evidence, supplemented by a rapid appraisal of a selection of qualitative studies, experience of what guideline developers are doing, and workshop discussions.
Results: A clear distinction needs to be made between the use of information on consumer values and preferences by guideline developers, and the direct involvement of consumers in guideline development processes. Sources of information on consumer values include the research literature and direct elicitation of values both from organizations representing consumer interests and from individuals. To complement the identification of consumer values, there are a range of methods for involving consumers at all stages of guideline development, from consultation to direct membership of guideline development groups.
Conclusions: Evidence-based guidelines need to consider explicitly the values and preferences of all relevant stakeholders (including those of consumers) and to provide opportunities for patients, caregivers, and the public to engage in the processes that consider and integrate those values into the development of guideline recommendations.