Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death. Although not yet available on the NHS, electronic cigarettes are now the most popular aid to smoking cessation, with 37% of smokers using them for quit attempts, and approximately 2.6 million adults currently using them. However, as the popularity of electronic cigarettes have increased, so has the controversy associated with using them, and media scare stories may deter their use. The current evidence base is small and there is much we do not know.
The new Public Health England report (McNeil et al., 2018) contains lots of research questions that need addressing, relating to policy, nicotine, use in young people, use in adults, the use on smoking cessation and harm reduction, risks, safety and health risks, and pricing.
This study aims to develop a Priority Setting Partnership between smokers/vapers and clinicians to identify and prioritise research questions relating to electronic cigarettes as a tool for smoking cessation and harm reduction.
Often, clinical research does not address the questions that are of greatest importance to patients, and their clinicians. The James Lind Alliance has developed methods for bringing patients and clinicians together to establish 'Priority Setting Partnerships (PSPs)’ that then identify and prioritise ‘uncertainties’, in order to inform publicly funded research.
All top ten priorities for the PSPs are published in the UK Database of Uncertainties about the Effects of Treatments (UK DUETs), thus ensuring wide availability to government, academics, clinicians, research commissioners and funders to inform policy and practice.
Electronic Cigarettes Priority Setting Partnership
UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies
Clinical Sciences Building, City Hospital
Nottingham, NG5 1PB
Helen Bulbeck, Director of brainstrust, about the Neuro-oncology PSP
Priority Setting Partnerships (PSPs) enable clinicians, patients and carers to work together to identify and prioritise uncertainties about the effects of treatments that could be answered by research. While the James Lind Alliance (JLA) facilitates these partnerships, the funding and organising is done by the PSP itself.
The JLA PSP process results in a Top 10. The aim of the Top 10 is to highlight important areas for research, but not necessarily to come up with the specific research questions. The Top 10 may include broader areas of importance where patients, carers and health professionals have agreed that there is a need for research. This informs researchers and research funders about priorities so that they can make their research as meaningful as possible to the people who need it.
To ensure consistency, the JLA asks each PSP to conform to these underpinning principles:
Transparency of process
Balanced inclusion of patient, carer and clinician interests and perspectives
Exclusion of non-clinician researchers from voting (they may be involved in all other aspects of the process)
Exclusion of groups or organisations that have significant competing interests, for example pharmaceutical companies
A maintained audit trail from original submitted uncertainties, to final prioritised list.
To find out more about the areas in which PSPs have been identifying the uncertainties which really matter, please visit the PSPs section.
The James Lind Alliance (JLA) is a non-profit making initiative established in 2004.
The JLA infrastructure is funded by the NIHR. Read their relationship statement here.