Objectives: This study aims to describe a cycle of development leading to sustainable methods for involving consumers in the management of a program commissioning health technology assessment.
Methods: Staff time was dedicated to developing procedures for recruiting and briefing consumers to participate in prioritizing, commissioning, and reporting research. Resources and support were developed in light of early feedback from consumers and those working with them. These were piloted and amended before being used routinely.
Results: Over 4 years, procedures and resources have been developed to support six consumers attending seven to eight prioritization meetings a year; thirty to forty-five consumers each year commenting on research need for particular topics; thirty consumers a year commenting on research proposals, and twenty a year commenting on research reports. The procedures include clear job descriptions, induction and development days, clear briefing materials, payment for substantial tasks, and regularly seeking feedback to improve procedures.
Conclusions: Explicit, inclusive, and reproducible methods for supporting consumer involvement that satisfy National Health Service policy recommendations for involving consumers in research require dedicated staff time to support a cycle of organizational development.