Identifying Research Priorities for Public Health Research to Address Health Inequalities: Use of Delphi-Like Survey Methods

For which topic were research priorities identified?

public health

In which location was the research priority setting conducted?

Europe - United Kingdom

Why was it conducted at all?

In the funding of health research and public health research it is vital that research questions posed are important and that funded research meets a research need or a gap in evidence. Many methods are used in the identification of research priorities, however, these can be resource intensive, costly and logistically challenging. Identifying such research priorities can be particularly challenging for complex public health problems as there is a need to consult a number of experts across disciplines and with a range of expertise.

What was the objective?

to identify important research priorities relating to health inequalities and framing tractable research questions for topic areas identified

What was the outcome?

a list of 3 research areas

How long did the research prioritization take?

No information provided.

Which methods were used to identify research priorities?

Delphi; survey

How were the priorities for research identified exactly?

Step 1: Delphi round 1: participants were asked: "In your opinion, what are the most important questions/problems in health inequalities in the United Kingdom where evidence would be helpful? What are your reasons for selecting this/these question(s)/problem(s)?". Step 2: content analysis. Step 3: Delphi round 2: top three themes identified in round 1 were fed back to the group, participants were asked: In which areas of your practice related to …1/2/3… do you feel that you need new information/evidence? Would your practice be likely to change if there was new evidence?, responses were then analyzed, topic areas most frequently mentioned were identified. Step 4: Delphi round 3: the three top topic areas selected from round 2 were fed back to the group, participants were asked: Which interventions (things that can be done) would you like to see researched and in which population groups would you like to see this research done?, responses from round 3 were analyzed and the areas requiring intervention and the population groups most frequently mentioned were identified. Step 5: survey: participants were asked to formulate research questions for research areas

Which stakeholders took part?

Public health professionals with an interest in health inequalities, academics. Delphi round 1: 36 participants. Delphi round 2: 26 participants. Delphi round 3: 21 participants. Survey: 11 participants.

How were stakeholders recruited?

Potential participants were recruited through various sources, including Contact, Help, Advice and Information Network (CHAIN), contacts made through conferences and meetings, Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS; list of members available on internet), Directors of Public Health identified on the internet, and through the delegate list of the Local Government Association Annual Public Health conference. Participants for phase 2 were a group of research-active methodologists/academics, who were experts in the areas of the topics identified in phase 1. Potential participants were identified through CHAIN and searching the internet for experts in the field.

Were stakeholders actively involved or did they just participate?

Stakeholders were mere participants of the research prioritization process; they were not actively involved in the process.