Objective: As health technology assessment (HTA) organizations in Canada and around the world seek to involve the public and patients in their activities, frameworks to guide decisions about whom to involve, through which mechanisms, and at what stages of the HTA process have been lacking. The aim of this study was to describe the development and outputs of a comprehensive framework for involving the public and patients in a government agency's HTA process.
Methods: The framework was informed by a synthesis of international practice and published literature, a dialogue with local, national and international stakeholders, and the deliberations of a government agency's public engagement subcommittee in Ontario, Canada.
Results: The practice and literature synthesis failed to identify a single, optimal approach to involving the public and patients in HTA. Choice of methods should be considered in the context of each HTA stage, goals for incorporating societal and/or patient perspectives into the process, and relevant societal and/or patient values at stake. The resulting framework is structured around four actionable elements: (i) guiding principles and goals for public and patient involvement (PPI) in HTA, (ii) the establishment of a common language to support PPI efforts, (iii) a flexible array of PPI approaches, and (iv) on-going evaluation of PPI to inform adjustments over time.
Conclusions: A public and patient involvement framework has been developed for implementation in a government agency’s HTA process. Core elements of this framework may apply to other organizations responsible for HTA and health system quality improvement.