The top 10 retinoblastoma research priorities in Canada as determined by patients, clinicians and researchers: a patient-oriented priority-setting partnership

Kaitlyn Flegg, Maxwell J Gelkopf, Sarah A Johnson, Helen Dimaras
CMAJ Open 2020, 8 (2): E420-E428

BACKGROUND: Retinoblastoma is a childhood cancer of the eye that can have lifelong effects on patients and families. The purpose of this study was for people affected by retinoblastoma, clinicians and researchers to jointly determine the top 10 retinoblastoma research priorities in Canada.

METHODS: An adaptation of the James Lind Alliance Priority Setting Partnership (PSP) methodology was employed. People were invited to participate in any stage of the priority-setting process if they were a resident of Canada, and were a patient with retinoblastoma (or a family member or friend of someone diagnosed with retinoblastoma) or a clinician or researcher interested in retinoblastoma. Patients were full partners in study design and implementation, and result dissemination, through involvement in a national working group (1 patient and 9 nonpatients) and steering committee (4 patients and 11 nonpatients). In phase 1 of the study, participants responded to an online survey that asked, "What questions about retinoblastoma would you like to see answered by research?" In phase 2, the steering committee reviewed and refined the list of survey responses and decided on a list of 30 questions to be ranked by means of the nominal group technique in phase 3, a priority-setting workshop.

RESULTS: In total, 175 retinoblastoma research questions were suggested by 59 survey participants (38 patients and 21 nonpatients). The categories with the greatest number of questions were genetics and molecular (45 [25.7%]), second cancer (29 [16.6%]) and psychosocial (27 [15.4%]). The top 10 questions as ranked by the workshop participants (10 patients and 10 nonpatients) fell into 7 categories: second cancer (2 questions), follow-up (2), psychosocial (2), treatment (1), diagnosis (1), global health (1) and miscellaneous (1). The early diagnosis of retinoblastoma was identified as the top retinoblastoma research priority in Canada.

INTERPRETATION: The list of priorities will serve as a resource for advocacy groups, research teams and funding agencies that focus on retinoblastoma. The inclusion of researchers as participants was an adaptation of the James Lind Alliance PSP methodology and enriched the research prioritization process.

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