Public priorities for improvement often differ from those of clinicians and managers. Public involvement has been proposed as a way to bridge the gap between professional and public clinical care priorities but has not been studied in the context of quality-indicator choice. Our objective is to assess the feasibility and impact of public involvement on quality-indicator choice and agreement with public priorities.
We will conduct a cluster randomised controlled trial comparing quality-indicator prioritisation with and without public involvement. In preparation for the trial, we developed a 'menu' of quality indicators, based on a systematic review of existing validated indicator sets. Participants (public representatives, clinicians, and managers) will be recruited from six participating sites. In intervention sites, public representatives will be involved through direct participation (public representatives, clinicians, and managers will deliberate together to agree on quality-indicator choice and use) and consultation (individual public recommendations for improvement will be collected and presented to decision makers). In control sites, only clinicians and managers will take part in the prioritisation process. Data on quality-indicator choice and intended use will be collected. Our primary outcome will compare quality-indicator choice and agreement with public priorities between intervention and control groups. A process evaluation based on direct observation, videorecording, and participants' assessment will be conducted to help explain the study's results. The marginal cost of public involvement will also be assessed.
We identified 801 quality indicators that met our inclusion criteria. An expert panel agreed on a final set of 37 items containing validated quality indicators relevant for chronic disease prevention and management in primary care. We pilot tested our public-involvement intervention with 27 participants (11 public representatives and 16 clinicians and managers) and our study instruments with an additional 21 participants, which demonstrated the feasibility of the intervention and generated important insights and adaptations to engage public representatives more effectively. To our knowledge, this study is the first trial of public involvement in quality-indicator prioritisation, and its results could foster more effective upstream engagement of patients and the public in clinical practice improvement.
NTR2496 (Netherlands National Trial Register, http://www.trialregister.nl).
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In the past 50 years, individual patient involvement at the clinical consultation level has received considerable attention. More recently, patients and the public have increasingly been involved in collective decisions concerning the improvement of health care and policymaking. However, rigorous evaluation guiding the development and implementation of effective public involvement interventions is lacking. This article describes those key ingredients likely to affect public members' ability to deliberate productively with professionals and influence collective health care choices.
We conducted a trial process evaluation of public involvement in setting priorities for health care improvement. In all, 172 participants (including 83 patients and public members and 89 professionals) from 6 Health and Social Services Centers in Canada participated in the trial. We video-recorded 14 one-day meetings, and 2 nonparticipant observers took structured notes. Using qualitative analysis, we show how public members influenced health care improvement priorities.
Legitimacy, credibility, and power explain the variations in the public members' influence. Their credibility was supported by their personal experience as patients and caregivers, the provision of a structured preparation meeting, and access to population-based data from their community. Legitimacy was fostered by the recruitment of a balanced group of participants and by the public members' opportunities to draw from one another's experience. The combination of small-group deliberations, wider public consultation, and a moderation style focused on effective group process helped level out the power differences between professionals and the public. The engagement of key stakeholders in the intervention design and implementation helped build policy support for public involvement.
A number of interacting active ingredients structure and foster the public's legitimacy, credibility, and power. By paying greater attention to them, policymakers could develop and implement more effective public involvement interventions.
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