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This article has been peer reviewed. It is the author’s final published version in BMC Medical Research Methodology, Volume 19, Issue 1, January 2019, Article number 7.

The published version is available at Copyright © Rising et al.


BACKGROUND: Data are limited regarding how to effectively and efficiently identify patient priorities for research or clinical care. Our goal was to compare the comprehensiveness and efficiency of group concept mapping (GCM), a group participatory method, to interviews for identifying patient goals when seeking care.

METHODS: We engaged patients with moderately- to poorly-controlled diabetes mellitus in either GCM or an individual interview. The primary outcome was the comprehensiveness of GCM brainstorming (the first stage of GCM) as compared to interviews for eliciting patient-important outcomes (PIOs) related to seeking care. Secondary outcomes included 1) comprehensiveness of GCM brainstorming and interviews compared to a master list of PIOs and 2) efficiency of GCM brainstorming, the entire GCM process and interviews.

RESULTS: We engaged 89 interview participants and 52 GCM participants (across 3 iterations of GCM) to identify outcomes most important to patients when making decisions related to diabetes management. We identified 26 PIOs in interviews, 33 PIOs in the first GCM brainstorming session, and 38 PIOs across all three GCM brainstorming sessions. The initial GCM brainstorming session identified 77% (20/26) of interview PIOs, and all 3 GCM brainstorming sessions combined identified 88% (23/26). When comparing GCM brainstorming and interviews to the master list of PIOs, the initial GCM brainstorming sessions identified 80% (33/41), all 3 GCM brainstorming sessions identified 93% (38/41) and interviews identified 63% (26/41) of all PIOs. Compared to interviews, GCM brainstorming required less research team time, more patient time, and had a lowest cost. The entire GCM process still required less research team time than interviews, though required more patient time and had a higher cost than interviews.

CONCLUSIONS: GCM brainstorming is a powerful tool for effectively and efficiently identifying PIOs in certain scenarios, though it does not provide the breadth and depth of individual interviews or the higher level conceptual organization of the complete process of GCM. Selection of the optimal method for patient engagement should include consideration of multiple factors including depth of patient input desired, research team expertise, resources, and the population to be engaged.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: Registered on , NCT02792777. Registration information submitted 6/2/2016, with the registration first posted on the website 6/8/2016. Data collection began on 4/29/2016.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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