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Involvement of consumers in the development of evidence based clinical guidelines: practical experiences from the North of England evidence based guideline development programme
  1. A van Wersch, honorary senior research associate1,
  2. M Eccles, professor1
  1. 1Centre for Health Services Research, School of Health Sciences, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 4AA, UK
  1. Professor M Eccles martin.eccles{at}


Background—Consumer involvement in clinical guidelines has long been advocated although there are few empirical accounts of attempts to do so. It is therefore not surprising that there is a lack of clarity about how and when to involve consumers and what to expect from them within the process of guideline development.

Methods—The North of England evidence based guideline development programme has used four different methods of consumer involvement.

Results—When individual patients were included in a guideline development group they contributed infrequently and had problems with the use of technical language. Although they contributed most in discussions of patient education, their contributions were not subsequently acted on. In a “one off” meeting with a group of patients there were again reported problems with medical terminology and the group were most interested in sections on patient education and self management. However, their understanding of the use of scientific evidence in order to contribute to a more cost effective health care remained unclear. In a workshop it was possible to explain the technical elements of guideline development to patients who could then engage with such a process and make relevant suggestions as a consequence. However, this was relatively resource intensive. A patient advocate within a guideline development group felt confidence to speak, was used to having discussions with health professionals, and was familiar with the medical terminology.

Conclusions—Consumers should be involved in all stages of guideline development. While this is possible, it is not straightforward. There is no one right way to accomplish this and there is a clear need for further work on how best to achieve it.

  • patient involvement
  • patient education
  • guideline development groups

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