Background:There is increasing acceptance of the value of involving consumers, including policy makers, in prioritisation, production and dissemination of systematic reviews.
Objectives:To describe a collaborative partnership model between a research team and policy makers, with particular focus on ways in which policy makers are involved as consumers throughout the systematic-review cycle.
Methods:Case-study method with the phenomenon of interest being consumer involvement throughout the systematic-review cycle.
Results:The collaborative partnership between a research team and policy makers from social welfare directorates in Norway is characterised by high-level involvement by policy makers at multiple stages throughout the systematic-review cycle: 1) In the organisational and review production process: Policy makers prioritise review topics, serve as advisory group members, participate in working groups, and comment on protocol- and review drafts. This includes providing clear rationale for reviews and identifying factors that influence the transferability of the review findings to their context. 2) In consideration of accessibility: Policy makers are partners in plain-language summary preparation and provide guidance about readability of reviews and summaries, e.g. by removing jargon. 3) In promotion activities and knowledge transfer: Policy makers collaborate with the research team on conference-based activities, outreach and awareness raising for evidence-based health and welfare policies. The partnership model ensures relevance of reviews, a transparent and inclusive review process, and a balanced presentation of results and implications, with the end goal of improving the uptake of evidence in social welfare policy. The most important barrier to involvement is the lack of guidance on consumer involvement.
Conclusions:A partnership model of consumer involvement by policy makers throughout the review cycle has clear benefits. While the degree of benefit may be proportional to the level of investment, there is a need for additional documentation on the structures and processes that derive the greatest benefit.