Chapter 7: Interim priority setting

Interim prioritisation is the stage where the long list of indicative questions (evidence uncertainties) is reduced to a shorter list that can be discussed at the final priority-setting workshop.

To do this, stakeholders are asked to prioritise the questions, based on their own knowledge and experience. This then creates the shorter list of questions for the final priority-setting workshop.

The interim survey

The Steering Group should agree the number of uncertainties that they think is appropriate to send to people in a survey for this interim priority setting exercise. The JLA Adviser can help with this decision.  

Instructions for the survey should be clear, and ideally piloted before dissemination to test whether users would know what they need to do just by reading them.  Instructions should note that respondents are not being asked to answer the questions (a common misunderstanding), but just to choose the ones they think are most important for research to address. The Type 2 Diabetes PSP ran a focus group to pilot its interim survey. The results of this can be seen in the Key Documents section of that PSP on the website.

Clear presentation of the list is important, and the Steering Group should consider how to structure it.  Steering Groups may consider the use of categories to help respondents navigate the data, and whether plain language explanations are added to each question where it is difficult to make the question itself lay-friendly, e.g. due to unavoidable use of medical terms.   Different forms of survey software may allow randomisation of questions or the facility to choose questions and then drag and drop them into an order.  Examples of survey software that PSPs have used for interim priority setting include SurveyMonkey, Qualtrics, Google Forms, OptimalSort, Lime Survey and Online surveys, but there may be other suitable platforms.

Many PSPs keep interim surveys open for around one to two months, depending on the responses they are receiving from appropriate groups of people.

Steering Groups are encouraged to use alternative means of consultation for interim prioritisation if a survey is not suitable for all their patient and carer groups.  Capacity to process responses will be a key factor when designing a PSP’s approach to interim prioritisation.