This Helpdesk article was co-produced with the help of consumer volunteers recruited on Engage - a huge thank you to everyone who provided feedback!
Healthcare consumers (patients, carers and the public) play an essential role in producing and disseminating Cochrane evidence. Consumer input is valuable at all stages of review production and beyond.
Cochrane Groups and author teams often need to find patients, carers and members of the public to help in a range of volunteer roles. The most common task is to provide feedback on draft reviews, as the Cochrane peer review policy specifically recommends consumer input. Other opportunities for consumers include helping with priority setting, joining an author team or volunteering within Cochrane Groups.
Cochrane Engage is an effective way to advertise consumer review tasks to a wide community and to recruit and reward volunteers.
Top tips for posting a task to get responses
- Use a friendly, informal tone.
- Remember that the Engage community is diverse and contains many non-native English speakers - avoid complex terminology and Cochrane jargon!
- Ask for help and thank people in advance for volunteering.
- Appeal to people's desire to use their experiences to help others.
- Describe the condition and treatment in simple plain language, avoiding scientific terms.
- Make it clear what the task involves. In a quick survey of consumers, feedback was the preferred term for consumer peer review tasks. This was selected over 'input' or 'comments'.
- Consider people, patients, carers as alternatives to 'consumer'; this term is used very specifically by Cochrane but may not be widely understood - you can also address respondents directly as you.
- Who is the task for? Do you need help from someone with lived experience of a particular health condition or intervention? Are you looking for a general consumer viewpoint?
TOP TIP! We promote Engage tasks on social media. Make your task title a summary that is easy to share.
These titles use plain language and clearly state who and what is needed.
✔ Do you have varicose veins, or care for someone with varicose veins? Would a mobile-phone app help you to remember to do leg exercises? Please give your feedback on a draft Cochrane Review
✔ Are you the parent of a baby that was expected to be very big before he/she was born? Could you give feedback on a review that looks at whether induction of labour would be beneficial to mothers and babies?
These titles (for the same tasks) use Cochrane jargon and scientific language. Would they be easy for a member of the public to understand?
❌ Consumer input for review on telemedicine-based interventions for improving adherence to prescribed exercises for primary prevention of venous leg ulcers
❌ Consumer reviewer sought for review: Induction of labour for suspected fetal macrosmonia
- Describe what you need people to do - e.g. Complete a short form to give your opinion on a draft Cochrane Review.
- Give an estimate of the time needed to complete the task.
- If there is a deadline, state it clearly.
- Briefly explain the value of the task - why is patient and carer involvement important?
- Keep the description concise and link to further information/resources where these are available. We have step-by-step guidance for consumers completing peer review tasks in Editorial Manager.
- Select Consumer Input and Peer Review - Consumer - these are the filters consumers use when searching for tasks.
Promote your task
- When your task is live on Engage, use the sharing buttons next to the task description to promote on Twitter, Facebook, or via email and other forums.
- If you share your task from your Cochrane Group Twitter feed, please tag @cochranecollab and @CochraneConsumr to guarantee retweets from our accounts!
Unpublish your task when you have the responses you need
When you hear from candidates interested in your task, please go to My Tasks > Select candidates and choose the people you need. See How to accept and decline volunteers on Cochrane Engage.
Remove or unpublish your task to make sure you aren't wasting people's time. Patients and carers have told us it is frustrating applying for tasks for which someone has already been recruited.
Ask for help
Questions, feedback or tips on using Engage for patient and carer involvement? Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.