Priority setting is important in terms of allocation of research funding, and has the potential to ensure that all stakeholders play a role in identifying the research agenda of an organisation. In the case of the Australia & New Zealand Musculoskeletal (ANZMUSC) Clinical Trials Network, it will allow the network to assess whether or not a trial applying for endorsement meets the criteria for endorsement in that it satisfies an ANZMUSC research priority (reflecting important disease burden and an important evidence – or evidence- practice gap).
There are many alternate ways of developing a priority list including the Delphi method (iterative consultation with stakeholders and experts), trend analysis and modelling (using previous trends to predict future burdens), scenario discussion (assessment of priorities via structured discussion of outcomes and matrix approaches (using quantifiable data such as cost-effectiveness to consider the potential effect). While methods such as the James Lind Alliance approach is worthy in some situations, the list it creates is not dynamic and may be biased by the participants involved in the task.
To over come these issues, ANZMUSC will be undertaking a multi-attribute decision making process as described here.
A first step to this project will involve conducting a systematic review of other MSK priority setting exercise. If you would like to be involved in that project, please contact ANZMUSC before January 31st 2017.