Key considerations

When planning an online workshop, PSPs should work closely with their JLA Adviser and draw on the knowledge of their Steering Group to ascertain the following:

Number of participants

It is important to be realistic about the number of people who can take part.  The limitations of an online setting (including lack of non-verbal communication and potential technical problems) mean that group discussions are likely to be less fluid than they are in person.  Some groups of people may find it more difficult than others to participate online and their needs should be considered.  The number of breakout groups may need to be increased to accommodate a larger total number of participants, while retaining manageable numbers within each of those groups.  Recent JLA PSP online workshops have opted for around 20 to 24 participants, divided into four breakout groups of five to six people.

Number of questions for prioritisation

Again, the online setting limits the number of questions that can be discussed and prioritised. Having too many questions is likely to result in a rushed discussion to which no one is able to contribute meaningfully or comfortably.  To date, JLA has advised PSPs to aim to take the top 15 questions from the interim priority setting survey to ensure that the final prioritisation task is not overwhelming.  In some cases, this has increased to 18, but each individual PSP should be mindful of the complexity of the questions and topics, and the needs of the participants, when agreeing its number.  The JLA recognises that this is a limitation of the online workshop, meaning fewer questions are discussed than there would be in person (usually around 25).

One- or two-day format

Most in-person JLA workshops take place within one day. Working online can be intense and tiring.  So far, PSPs that have run their workshop online have decided to either do it in one day, or to divide it across two (ideally consecutive) days.  The Steering Group should consider the needs of the participants, including burden on patient/carer participants, as well as the availability and capacity of their clinicians, for whom taking time off for one day may be more feasible than two part-days.  In both cases, designing an agenda which allows for enough screen breaks is key.

Support for participants

Consideration should be given to the kind of support participants may need to take part in an online workshop.  This might include an induction or training in using the online platform, provision of guidance on how to take part, technical support on the day and provision of workshop papers in electronic and hard copy.  Duty of care should also be considered, given that questions for prioritisation can include sensitive and upsetting topics.  It is harder in an online setting for the facilitators to detect if someone is struggling.  Provision of emotional support during or after the workshop should be planned for.

Planning time

The JLA’s experience has been that the delivery of an online workshop is at least as time-consuming and resource intensive as the delivery of an in-person workshop.  PSPs will need to carefully consider the practical implications and work closely with their JLA Adviser to map out their approach, including recruitment, briefing sessions, delivery and follow-up.


Compared with a face-to-face version, the online workshop does not require PSPs to budget for a venue, catering, accommodation and travel costs.  However, there are significant cost and resource implications to delivering an online workshop and moving to an online workshop is not necessarily a lower cost option. For example, PSPs should still consider budgeting for:

  • Time needed in preparation for the workshop including participant recruitment and liaison, sending hard copy workshop materials to all participants and the costs of technical support of participants both before and during the workshop
  • Subscription to a suitable online platform
  • Reimbursement payments in recognition of the time patients and carers spend preparing for and attending the workshop
  • Up to four JLA Advisers to facilitate the workshop. A typical face-to-face priority setting workshop involves one JLA Adviser to chair the workshop plus two additional JLA Advisers to facilitate the small group discussions.  For online working, it is highly recommended that participants are split into four small facilitated breakout groups to enable a large enough number of people to take part.