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Obesity research priority setting, if conducted to a high standard, can help promote policy-relevant and efficient research. Therefore, there is a need to identify existing research priority setting studies conducted in the topic area of obesity and to determine the extent to which they followed good practice principles for research priority setting.
Studies examining research priority setting in obesity were identified through searching the MEDLINE, PBSC, CINAHL, PsycINFO databases and the grey literature. The nine common themes of good practice in research priority setting were used as a methodological framework to evaluate the processes of the included studies. These were context, use of a comprehensive approach, inclusiveness, information gathering, planning for implementation, criteria, methods for deciding on priorities, evaluation and transparency.
Thirteen articles reporting research prioritisation exercises conducted in different areas of obesity research were included. All studies reported engaging with various stakeholders such as policy makers, researchers and healthcare professionals. Public involvement was included in six studies. Methods of research prioritisation commonly included both Delphi and nominal group techniques and surveys. None of the 13 studies fulfilled all nine of the good practice criteria for research priority setting, with the most common limitations including not using a comprehensive approach and lack of inclusivity and evaluating on their processes.
There is a need for research priority setting studies in obesity to involve the public and to evaluate their exercises to ensure they are of high quality.