Coeliac Disease PSP Protocol


Published: 05 May 2020

Version: 1.0

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Purpose of the PSP and background

The purpose of this protocol is to set out the aims, objectives and commitments of the coeliac disease Priority Setting Partnership (PSP) and the basic roles and responsibilities of the partners therein. It is recommended that the Protocol is reviewed by the Steering Group on a regular basis (every 2 – 3 months) which will help to keep the aims and objectives in mind.

The James Lind Alliance (JLA) is a non-profit making initiative, established in 2004. It brings patients, carers and clinicians together in Priority Setting Partnerships (PSPs). These partnerships identify and prioritise uncertainties, or ‘unanswered questions’, about the effects of treatments that they agree are the most important. The aim of this is to help ensure that those who fund health research are aware of what really matters to both patients and clinicians. The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR – funds the infrastructure of the JLA to oversee the processes for priority setting partnerships, based at the NIHR Evaluation, Trials and Studies Coordinating Centre (NETSCC), University of Southampton.

The coeliac disease PSP is funded by Coeliac UK and supported by the James Lind Alliance. Coeliac UK is keen to identify the research priorities of people living with coeliac disease and people caring for those who live with the condition, to help inform the research priorities of the charity, help researchers in coeliac disease identify questions of importance to users and to inform the priorities of other research funders.

Aims and objectives of the coeliac disease PSP

The aim of the coeliac disease PSP is to identify the unanswered questions about the cause, diagnosis, treatment and management of coeliac disease from people (adults and children) affected by the condition and clinical perspectives and then prioritise those that people affected by the condition and clinicians agree are the most important.

The objectives of the coeliac disease PSP are to:

  • work with people (adults and children) affected by coeliac disease and clinicians to identify uncertainties about the cause, diagnosis, treatment and management of coeliac disease
  • to agree by consensus a prioritised list of those uncertainties, for research
  • to publicise the results of the PSP and process
  • to take the results to research commissioning bodies to be considered for funding.

The Steering Group

The coeliac disease PSP will be led and managed by the following:

Patient representatives:

  • Members of Coeliac UK [patients/parents/carers]
    • Manpreet Bains, Brian Barnes, Andrea Gibbons, Debbie Lane

Clinical representatives:

  • Professor David Sanders, Consultant Gastroenterologist and Professor of Gastroenterology, Royal
    Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield and University of Sheffield.
  • Dr Gerry Robins, Consultant Gastroenterologist, The York Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  • Dr Peter Gillett, Consultant Paediatric Gastroenterologist, Royal Hospital for Sick Children,
  • Professor Marios Hadjivassiliou, Consultant Neurologist, Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield
  • Dr Debbie Bell, General Practitioner, The Maltings Surgery, St Albans, Herts
  • Dr David Bellamy, General Practitioner, Manor Field Surgery, Rotherham, South Yorks
  • Abi Freedman, Paediatric Gastroenterology Dietitian, Royal Free London NHS Hospital
  • Veronica Mitchell, Lead Gastroenterology Dietitian, Hounslow and Richmond Community Healthcare
  • Katherine Page, Dietitian, University Hospital, North Midlands NHS Trust, Stoke on Trent

The Partnership and the priority setting process will be supported and guided by:

  • The James Lind Alliance (JLA)
    • Maryrose Tarpey
  • Coeliac UK staff
    • Heidi Urwin, Katie Stokes, Norma McGough
  • Ann Daly, Independent Information Specialist

The Steering Group includes representation of patient/carer groups and clinicians.

The Steering Group will agree the resources, including time and expertise that they will be able to contribute to each stage of the process. The JLA will advise on this.

The wider partners 

Organisations and individuals will be invited to be involved with the PSP as partners. Partners are groups or individuals who will commit to supporting the PSP by disseminating the PSP survey and helping the PSP to gather questions and uncertainties of practical clinical importance relating to the treatment and management of the health problem in question. Partners represent the following groups:

  • people diagnosed with coeliac disease
  • parents/carers of people diagnosed with coeliac disease
  • medical doctors, nurses and professionals allied to medicine with clinical experience of coeliac

It is important that all organisations which can reach and advocate for these groups should be invited to become involved in the PSP. The JLA Adviser will take responsibility for ensuring the various stakeholder groups are able to contribute equally to the process.

Exclusion criteria

Some organisations may be judged by the JLA or the Steering Group to have conflicts of interest. These may be perceived to adversely affect those organisations’ views, causing unacceptable bias. As this is likely to affect the ultimate findings of the PSP, those organisations will not be invited to participate. It is possible, however, that interested parties may participate in a purely observational capacity when the Steering Group considers it may be helpful.

The methods the PSP will use

This section describes a schedule of proposed stages through which the PSP aims to fulfil its objectives. The process is iterative and dependent on the active participation and contribution of different groups. The methods adopted in any stage will be agreed through consultation between the partners, guided by the PSP’s aims and objectives. More details and examples can be found at 

Step 1: Identification and invitation of potential partners

Potential partner organisations will be identified through a process of peer knowledge and consultation, through the Steering Group members’ networks. Potential partners will be contacted and informed of the establishment and aims of the coeliac disease PSP.

Step 2: Identifying treatment uncertainties

Each partner will identify a method for soliciting from its members’ questions and uncertainties of practical clinical importance relating to the cause, diagnosis, treatment and management of coeliac disease. A period of two months will be given to complete this exercise.

The methods may be designed according to the nature and membership of each organisation, but must be as transparent, inclusive and representative as practicable. Methods may include membership meetings, email consultation, postal or web-based questionnaires, internet message boards, social media and focus group work.

Existing sources of information about uncertainties for patients and clinicians will be searched. These can include question answering services for patients and carers and for clinicians; research recommendations in systematic reviews and clinical guidelines; protocols for systematic reviews being prepared and registers of ongoing research.

The starting point for identifying sources of uncertainties and research recommendations is NHS Evidence:

Step 3: Refining questions and uncertainties

The Steering Group will need to have agreed exactly who will be responsible for this stage – the JLA can advise on the amount of time likely to be required for its execution. The JLA will participate in this process as an observer, to ensure accountability and transparency.

The consultation process will produce “raw” unanswered questions about the cause, diagnosis, treatment and management of coeliac disease. These raw questions will be assembled and categorised and refined by Ann Daly, (Information Specialist) into “collated indicative questions” which are clear, addressable by research and understandable to all. Similar or duplicate questions will be combined where appropriate.

Systematic reviews and guidelines will be identified and checked by Ann Daly (Information Specialist) to see to what extent these refined questions have, or have not, been answered by previous research. Sometimes, uncertainties are expressed that can in fact be resolved with reference to existing research evidence - ie they are "unrecognised knowns" and not uncertainties. If a question can be answered with existing information but this is not known, it suggests that information is not being communicated effectively to those who need it. Accordingly, the JLA recommends strongly that PSPs keep a record of these 'answerable questions' and deal with them separately from the 'true uncertainties' considered during the research priority setting process. These will be highlighted through any of Coeliac UK’s communication channels; website, magazine, e-newsletters, social media.

Uncertainties which are not adequately addressed by previous research will be collated and recorded on a template supplied by the JLA) by Ann Daly (Information Specialist). This will demonstrate the checking undertaken to make sure that the uncertainties have not already been answered. This is the responsibility of the Steering Group, which will need to have agreed personnel and resources to carry this accountability. The data should be submitted to the JLA for publication on its website on completion of the priority setting exercise, taking into account any changes made at the final workshop, in order to ensure that PSP results are publicly available.

Step 4: Prioritisation - interim and final stages

The aim of the final stage of the priority setting process is to prioritise through consensus the identified uncertainties relating to the cause, diagnosis, treatment and management of coeliac disease. This will be carried out by members of the Steering Group and the wider partnership that represents patients and clinicians.

  • The interim stage, to proceed from a long list of uncertainties to a shorter list to be discussed at the final priority setting workshop (e.g. up to 30), may be carried out over email or online, whereby organisations consult their membership and choose and rank their top 10 most important uncertainties. There are examples of how other PSPs have achieved this at in the Key Documents of the Anaesthesia and Perioperative Care PSP section and the Childhood Disability PSP section. 
  • The final stage, to reach, the Top 10 prioritised uncertainties, will be conducted in a face-to-face meeting, using group discussions and plenary sessions.
  • The methods used for this prioritisation process will be determined by consultation with the partner organisations and with the advice of the JLA Adviser. Methods which have been identified as potentially useful in this process include: adapted Delphi techniques; expert panels or nominal group techniques; consensus development conference; electronic nominal group and online voting; interactive research agenda setting and focus groups.

The JLA will facilitate this process and ensure transparency, accountability and fairness. Participants will be expected to declare their interests in advance of this meeting.

Dissemination of findings and research

Findings and research

It is anticipated that the findings of the coeliac disease PSP will be reported to funding and research agenda setting organisations such as the NIHR and the major research funding charities. Steering Group members and partners are expected to develop the prioritised uncertainties into research questions, and to work to establish the research needs of those unanswered questions to use when approaching potential funders, or when allocating funding for research themselves, if applicable.


As well as alerting funders, partners and Steering Group members are encouraged to publish the findings of the coeliac disease PSP using both internal and external communication mechanisms. The Steering Group may capture and publicise the results through descriptive reports of the process itself in Plain English. This exercise will be distinct from the production of an academic paper, which the partners are also encouraged to do. However, production of an academic paper should not take precedence over publicising of the final results.

Signed by the Steering Group

The Steering Group agreed this protocol on 18 May 2017.