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Consumer participation on a Cochrane review team

Date and Location




Sunday 22 September 2013 - 10:30 - 12:00


Presenting author and contact person

Presenting author

Janet Gunderson

Contact person

Janet Gunderson
Abstract text
Background- In 2011, two consumer volunteers were invited to join the writing team on a series of reviews on exercise for fibromyalgia. The role of consumers on the writing team was established. Methods- The review team meets once a month via SKPYE or Blackboard Collaborate. Materials circulated electronically prior to meetings include agendas and instructions regarding preparation as needed. The two consumers take part in team meetings and are prepared to comment in all discussions. Consumers help evaluate outcome measures, provide reflections on summaries of included studies, and help identify research gaps and priorities for future reviews. In the area of knowledge translation, consumers review manuscripts, provide feedback about the suitability for lay audiences, assist in developing plain language summaries, and help to develop a knowledge translation plan to share results with lay audiences. Challenges- Consumers needed to learn various technical and scientific terms along with becoming familiar with software such as DropBox and Review Manager. Although there was a definite learning curve, all consumer members were able to meet these challenges. Results- All team members including the two consumers adjusted to the new technologies allowing full participation from across Canada including a rural area. The traditional role of a consumer with a Cochrane review has grown considerably with this writing team. Conclusion- This approach demonstrates ways to include consumers throughout the entire review process, from planning to manuscript preparation. Consumers felt included and valued by the team, while scientific members appreciated the insights and opinions offered by the consumer collaborators.