BMJ Open highlights exemplary LIH publication for making research “more meaningful”
Luxembourg Institute of Health collaborative research study on whether socioeconomic factors affect the results of priority research partnerships, made it to the editors top picks as one of the most impactful publications of 2022.
The impact of a scientific publication is generally assessed according to its citations in scientific articles and ‘mentions’ across various channels, including news reports, blogs and social media platforms. These assessments are known as the “Impact factor” and the “Altmetric score”, but it has been debated recently whether they sufficiently represent the true impact of a publication. Indeed, another important way to make clinical research impactful is to involve patients and the public as partners in the design and conduct of the research, and by examining research questions and outcomes that matter to patients. In June, the well-known British Medicine Journal (BMJ Open) decided to spotlight these kind of publications, giving a particular prominence to one of the collaborations ensuing from the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH).
BMJ Open Editor’s picks blog 2022 featured the study based on an international collaboration between the National Centre of Excellence in Research on Parkinson’s disease (LIH, University of Luxembourg, Centre Hospitalier and Laboratoire National de Santé; Luxembourg), Oxford Parkinson’s disease Centre (University of Oxford; United Kingdom) and Hertie-Institute for Clinical Brain Research (University of Tübingen, Germany) entitled: “Exploration of whether socioeconomic factors affect the results of priority setting partnerships: updating the top 10 research priorities for the management of Parkinson’s in an international setting.” The article, co-written by LIH scientists Anne-Marie Hanff and Prof Rejko Krüger from the Department of Transversal Translational Medicine, explored whether patient’s socioeconomic differences affect the prioritisation of pre-existing research questions and the agreement between healthcare professionals and patients in priority setting partnerships (PSP) in Parkinson’s disease. PSPs aim to make research more meaningful to people affected by a specific disease by ascertaining the questions about medical conditions that are of the greatest importance to patients, their friends/family members and associated healthcare professionals. Developing questions with a focus on the effectiveness of treatment options and care provision important to patients could improve participation in clinical trials, better inform research funding strategies and improve healthcare policies for patients. In their post, the BMJ open editor celebrated how no research to date had ever examined to what extent the prioritisation of PSP varied across different socioeconomic groups, speculating that this lacuna could point towards bias advantaging patients and caregivers from wealthier and more educated backgrounds.
As highlighted by the editor:
Reassuringly, [the study] found no substantial evidence that socioeconomic factors affected the top priority but there was an observable difference between the prioritisation of other questions in the top 10.
Although socioeconomic factors only modestly influenced research priority ratings, recruitment of patients from different socioeconomic backgrounds remains important to generalize study results best to the public, as, for instance, educational level was an important factor identified. Amongst the research questions which appeared to be important to patients according to the majority of analysis, the editor featured the following: “What is the best type and dose of exercise (physiotherapy) for improving muscle strength, flexibility, fitness, balance and function in people with Parkinson’s.” As a consequence, the nurse Anne-Marie Hanff explores in her PhD project the protective factors of functional mobility generating recommendations on components of effective interventions to prevent a decrease in functional mobility of people with Parkinson’s disease.
The article was one of only four patient and public involvement picks from a plethora of accepted 2022 publications, giving a particular emphasis on the exemplary and wide-range research performed at the LIH, all aiming to bring research closer to patients.