Searching existing literature for uncertainties

As well as uncertainties submitted by patients, carers and clinicians, documented sources of information may be searched for evidence of uncertainty, as these may then be included in the prioritisation exercise. Steering Group members should decide who is best placed to carry out this task, in terms of time and expertise, for example, a member of the Steering Group or an Information Specialist contracted to carry out the work. (See the earlier section on the role of the Information Specialist).

Documented sources of uncertainties include question-answering services; research recommendations in systematic reviews and clinical guidelines; protocols for systematic reviews being prepared; and registers of ongoing research. Other helpful sources may include patient helplines, online collections and resources like and social media (for example Twitter hashtags). To avoid duplication of effort, PSPs have gathered this information while using the literature to check whether survey-submitted uncertainties have already been answered or not.