About Priority Setting Partnerships

“This PSP has been a truly collaborative effort and everybody has had a voice.  It has widened horizons and will shape clinical research for brain cancer patients and the people who look after them.  This means that in future clinical research will be relevant, focused and cohesive.  It's been a fabulous experience”

Helen Bulbeck, Director of brainstrust, about the Neuro-oncology PSP

Priority Setting Partnerships (PSPs) enable clinicians, patients and carers to work together to identify and prioritise uncertainties about the effects of treatments that could be answered by research. While the James Lind Alliance (JLA) facilitates these partnerships, the funding and organising is done by the PSP itself. 

Focusing on specific conditions or healthcare settings, the JLA facilitates PSPs which:

  • bring patient, carer and clinician groups together on an equal footing
  • identify treatment uncertainties (questions about treatments which cannot be answered by existing research) which are important to all groups
  • work with all groups to jointly prioritise identified uncertainties
  • produce a final list (often a Top 10) of jointly agreed research priorities, publicise them widely, and make sure that other uncertainties are recorded and available for researchers and research funders to access
  • provide a rare and valuable opportunity for patients and clinicians to shape the health research agenda.

JLA PSPs are characterised by following the method set out in the JLA Guidebook and are facilitated by a small team of JLA Advisers.

To ensure consistency, the JLA asks each PSP to conform to a set of underpinning principles. These are: 

  • transparency of process
  • balanced inclusion of patient, carer and clinician interests and perspectives
  • exclusion of non-clinician researchers from voting (they may be involved in all other aspects of the process)
  • exclusion of groups or organisations that have significant competing interests, for example pharmaceutical companies
  • a maintained audit trail from original submitted uncertainties, to final prioritised list.

To find out more about the areas in which PSPs have been identifying the uncertainties which really matter, please visit the PSPs section.

What do we mean by treatment uncertainty?

Treatment uncertainties are questions about treatments which cannot be answered by existing research. This might be questions about particular treatment options, methods of care, or diagnostic tests. 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.

*A systematic review combines evidence from existing research studies. For examples visit The Cochrane Collaboration.

More information about setting up a PSP is available in our summary of setting up a PSP leaflet (pdf, 275.36 KB). The JLA Guidebook also provides a step-by-step guide to the process.