Summary and findings from Cochrane Haematology’s Priority Setting Process
In July 2020, Cochrane Haematology (part of Cochrane’s Cancer Network) conducted a priority setting process to help decide on the top 10 priority systematic reviews to be updated and the top 5 priority topics for new systematic review in the area of Haematology. The full plan for this process, which adhered to the standards outlined in Cochrane’s priority setting guidance note, can be found here.
Cochrane Haematology analysed its current portfolio and sought feedback from Editors to create two lists of potential priority topics for systematic review. One list consisted of 25 topics for review updates currently accessible in the Cochrane Library and the other list consisted of 15 potential topics for new reviews. Following this, the Group sought input from key stakeholders, identified in a stakeholder mapping exercise conducted in collaboration with the Cancer Network team. The Group sent a web-based survey via email to stakeholders and also disseminated the survey through the Cochrane Haematology website, twitter account, the Cancer Network and through Cochrane channels (such as the Cochrane Community website).
In the survey, respondents were asked to select the topics they deemed to be of high priority from the lists provided and rank them afterwards from highest to lowest priority. They were also provided the option to add additional topics. An average score was then calculated for each ranked topic, where the highest ranked topics received the highest score (10 for update review topics and 5 for new review topics).
Who responded to the survey?
The online survey was open for eight weeks, between July 6th 2020 to August 28th 2020. A total of 160 responses were collected, of which 63 respondents provided complete responses (39%). All responses (completed and partially completed responses) were analysed.
Most of the respondents identified themselves as physician (34%), someone who is or has been affected by haematological disease (31%), or researcher (24%) and were distributed across 21 countries. The highest number of respondents resided in the United Kingdom (n = 72), Germany (n = 20) and Canada (n = 11). A total of 18 respondents resided in low-and-middle-income countries.
What were the top 10 priority topics for systematic review updates?
From the provided list of 25 topics of Cochrane Haematology reviews currently accessible on the Cochrane Library, 73 respondents selected and ranked up to five topics. Table 1 shows the top 10 highest scored topics for reviews that are a high priority to be updated. The average scores ranged from 5.15 to 8.44 with a mean score 6.59 (SD = 0.982).
Table 1: Top 10 topics for review updates
Review update topic
What are the top 5 topics for new systematic reviews?
From the provided list of 15 new review topics 62 respondents selected and ranked up to five topics. Table 2 shows the top 5 highest scored topics for new Cochrane Haematology reviews. The average scores ranged from 2.00 to 4.14 and a mean score of 3.20 (SD = 0.598).
Table 2: Top 5 topics for new reviews
New review topic
Prognostic models for adults with myelodysplastic syndromes and myelodysplastic neoplasms: a systematic review and meta-analysis
Drugs to improve anaemia and quality of life in people with myelodysplastic syndrome
Drugs to improve survival in people with high-risk myelodysplastic syndrome
Maintenance therapies to prevent or treat relapse post-haematopoietic stem cell transplant
Long-term survival with and after cancer: a systematic review of observational studies
16 respondents submitted topic suggestions addressing a broad range of topic areas such as general haematology, supportive care, myeloid disorders and lymphoid disorders. One topic was accompanied with the request for writing a review. There was one general comment on the survey in which the respondent stated that he could not select any topics as he was not familiar with all the topics and interventions mentioned. In another comment the respondent was wondering how much haematologists know in advance about the effectiveness and tolerance of chemotherapies in individual patients.
What is next?
The Group will publish at least two priority review updates and one new priority review per year. New titles not on the priority list will be considered for registration, however these titles will need to be considered as important by the Group’s editorial board or based on the additional topics respondents suggested.