Objectives: The aim of this study was to determine how evidence from systematic review (SR) is perceived and negotiated by expert stakeholders in considering a technology for potential disinvestment.
Methods: An evidence-informed stakeholder engagement examined results from a diagnostic accuracy SR of vitamin B12 and folate tests. Pathologists deliberated around the SR findings to generate an informed contribution to future policy for the funding of B12 and folate tests. Deliberations were transcribed and subject to qualitative analysis.
Results: Pathologists did not engage with findings from the SR in depth; rather they sought to contest the terms of the problem driving the review and attempted to reframe it. Pathologists questioned the usefulness of SR outcomes given the variable definitions of B12 deficiency and deferred addressing disinvestment options specifically pertaining to B12 testing. However, folate testing was proffered as a potential disinvestment candidate, based upon pathologists' definition of “appropriate” evidence beyond the bounds of the SR.
Conclusions: The value of SR to informing disinvestment deliberations by expert stakeholders may be a function of timing as well as content. Engagement of stakeholders in co-produced evidence may be required at two levels: (i) Early in the synthesis phase to help shape the SR and harmonize expert views with the available evidence (including gaps); (ii) Collaboration in primary research to fill evidence-gaps thus supporting evidence-based disinvestment. Without this, information asymmetry between clinically engaged experts and decision makers may preclude the collaborative, informed, and technical discussions required to generate productive policy change.