Introduction to the James Lind Alliance Priority Setting Partnership

The purpose of the James Lind Alliance (JLA) Priority Setting Partnership (PSP) is to enable patients, carers and health and social care professionals to come together on an equal footing to identify research questions in specific conditions or areas of healthcare for research, and then to prioritise these questions.

Each PSP consists of patients and carers, health and social care professionals and members of groups that represent all their interests. PSPs are led by a Steering Group with an independent Chair from the JLA PSP. Collaboration of this sort, where patients, carers and clinicians work together set the research agenda, is extremely rare, but vital.

The exercise will begin with a nationwide survey to gather questions about uncertainties in the healthcare area of interest, for example in living with and beyond cancer. Once the results have been analysed, an interim exercise takes place to further prioritise the uncertainties before a final priority-setting workshop is held where partners debate and finally arrive at a top ten list of shared uncertainties which are most important to them.

The aim is then to ‘translate’ these uncertainties into research questions in order to set the national research agenda, and provide researchers and research funders with the research questions that most pressingly need to be addressed.

What do uncertainties mean? The JLA definition of a treatment uncertainty is that:

  • No up-to-date, reliable systematic reviews of research evidence addressing the uncertainty about the effects of treatment exist
  • Up-to-date systematic reviews of research evidence show that uncertainty exists

Uncertainties can include other health care interventions, including prevention, testing and rehabilitation.

» Further information can be found on the JLA PSP website