The Information Specialist

A PSP needs an Information Specialist, or someone with a relevant skill set, who can review and analyse the data collected, review existing evidence, and formulate potential research questions.

The importance of establishing how this will be managed cannot be over-emphasised.  It is key to the success of the process.  This is the work which will verify that the questions are true uncertainties, and will ensure the work of the PSP is credible and up-to-date.  It is helpful if the Information Specialist has content knowledge in the subject area of the PSP.  However, if the Information Specialist is well supported by the Steering Group this may not be essential.  If a PSP has difficulty in identifying the correct person for this role, the JLA team may be able to advise on finding a general Information Specialist.  The role will involve:

  • Creating, listing and categorising questions from the initial PSP survey responses
  • Preparation of taxonomy
  • Allocation of uncertainties into taxonomy with guidance from the Steering Group
  • Putting submissions into PICO format where this is possible (questions which include the Patient/population, the Intervention, the Comparison and the Outcome – the advised minimum is the Patient/population and Intervention)
  • Checking existing systematic reviews and guidelines or other evidence to identify which questions have already been answered and to find any other research recommendations
  • Checking for relevant ongoing studies
  • Preparing a long list of uncertainties for interim prioritisation, ensuring that they are understandable for the patients, carers and clinicians who will be involved in this step and in the final workshop
  • Preparing the questions for the final prioritisation workshop
  • Supplying the PSP’s working spreadsheet of uncertainties and the prioritised list of uncertainties from the final workshop to the JLA, for publication on the JLA website
  • Providing regular updates of progress to the Steering Group and working within overall timescales agreed.

The individual will be someone with:

  • Database management experience
  • Critical appraisal skills: comfortable with managing and categorising large amounts of qualitative data, for example responses to open-ended survey questions
  • Experience of medical terminology
  • Attention to detail - methodical and organised
  • Ability to work to deadlines
  • Ability to communicate complex data to both patients, carers and clinicians
  • Familiarity with JLA process would be helpful, but not mandatory
  • Awareness of the PSP health area would be useful, but not mandatory.

The precise amount of analysis will depend on the number of survey responses but the estimated number of days work for the Information Specialist for the life of the PSP is approximately 25-30 days.  The Steering Group will have overall responsibility for the delivery of this work and will need to agree how they will contract with the Information Specialist.