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Patient involvement in health technology assessment (HTA) processes is becoming more frequent. However, it is not clear how patient advocates and their disease-based patient organisations that are involved in HTA view their involvement. We report on the results of an international survey of patient advocates and members of patient organisations about their experiences and perceptions of that involvement.
A 16-question survey was sent out to patient advocates and members of patient groups known to be involved in HTA processes or evidence-based practice. The survey consisted of open-ended questions focusing on respondent characteristics, stage and nature of involvement, support from HTA agencies for involvement, purpose of involvement, feedback on involvement, and whether the respondents felt that their input made a difference.
Of 16 individuals who received the survey, 15 responded. Three, from Italy, Israel and Japan, were not involved in HTA in their country. Respondents from the following countries reported involvement in HTA processes: Canada, England, Scotland, and Wales, The Netherlands, Australia, Taiwan. The respondents indicated that HTA agencies reach out to them either actively or passively, and that their involvement is often at the appraisal stage of HTA. Typically, they reported involvement as either participants in committees or providers of submissions to HTA agencies. A wide range of approaches to supporting patient involvement by the HTA agencies was identified by respondents – including personal and telephone support, online resources, training and provision of information – but the level and type of support reported was uneven across jurisdictions. Not all respondents were clear on the purpose of their involvement in HTA, although some were able to cite specific examples of how their input made a difference; members of an HTA decision-making committee appeared to have a better understanding and were able to give examples. Feedback from HTA agencies to the patient groups on their submissions is often not provided.
Although considerable progress has been made in terms of engaging patients and patient groups in HTA, gaps remain in how involvement is supported, including facilitating involvement, clarity on roles, two-way flow of information, and methods for enhancing communication between patient organisations and HTA agencies.
This document has been peer reviewed.