What is a priority setting partnership?

The RCSLT has embarked on a project to develop the top priorities for new research in speech and language therapy, using a priority setting partnership (PSP). PSPs enable clinicians, patients and carers to work together to identify and prioritise evidence uncertainties, in particular areas of health and care, that could be answered by research.

It is anticipated that the research priorities identified will be used by researchers, higher education institutes and research funders, to guide future research.

How has the RCSLT addressed setting research priorities?

The RCSLT has used a Research Priorities Working Group to agree the scope and approach to the projects and to oversee the delivery.

In 2015, RCSLT members completed a questionnaire that asked for SLTs’ thoughts on gaps in the evidence base that impact on their delivery of quality care.

Five key clinical areas were identified as those that required a PSP first:

  • Dysphagia
  • Learning disabilities
  • Developmental language disorders (DLD)
  • Aphasia
  • Autism

For the first three of these areas, SLTs, patients/service users and other professionals, worked together to use the evidence gaps to develop a list of research questions.

The long list was then prioritised to develop a ‘top 10’ list of questions for each area. This was done via a second online questionnaire involving SLTs, service users and other professionals.

The RCSLT has developed top 10 priorities for research in dysphagia, learning disabilities and developmental language disorders (DLD).

Research priorities for dysphagia

Download resources to learn about the research priorities in dysphagia for the speech and language therapy profession:

Since the priorities were published, there have been annual campaigns to document what research has been conducted in relation to them.

Research priorities for developmental language disorder

RCSLT is revisiting and extending the original developmental language disorder (DLD) project, to translate the research priority areas into fundable research questions that we can submit to funding bodies. This will complete in early 2025.

We have appointed a researcher to lead this project, but if you are interested in contributing to this second phase of the project, either as a clinician or as a researcher, please contact jessica.lane@rcslt.org.

DLD priorities resources

Download resources to learn about the research priorities in DLD for the speech and language therapy profession:

Since these priorities were published, there has been a campaign to document what research has been conducted in relation to the top 10 priorities.

Research priorities for learning disabilities

Download resources to learn about the learning disabilities (LD) research priorities for the speech and language therapy profession:

Since these priorities were published, there have been two annual campaigns to document what research has been conducted in relation to the top 10 priorities.

View the supplementary material to our article published in Tizard Learning Disability Review ‘Learning disabilities: PSP process, data and documentation’ (PDF).

What do the research priorities mean for me?

There are lots of ways you can use the priorities to support your work.

If you’re a speech and language therapist: 

  • Share the priorities with your networks, including service users and families.
  • Ask service users and families what they think about the priorities.
  • Use the priorities to inform a journal club meeting.
  • Discuss the priorities at a team meeting, clinical excellence network (CEN) event.
  • Review an article in relation to a priority area for the ‘in the journals’ column in Bulletin (Email Bulletin for details).
  • Carry out a clinical audit or quality improvement project related to a priority area.

If you’re a researcher conducting research in the field of speech and language therapy:

  • Let us know about any existing/potential work you know is happening in relation to a priority area.
  • Tell us about relevant funding bodies, stakeholders and funding opportunities, particularly local ones.
  • Use a priority area to inform your student dissertation project or to develop your research proposal/National Institute for Health Research fellowship application.

Next steps and support from the RCSLT research team

  • The working group met in 2020 to discuss next steps for the RCSLT priority setting partnership (PSP) project and decided that autism and aphasia clinical areas were no longer priority areas, as Autistica and the Stroke Association have already begun their own PSPs in this area.
  • Further work is required to ensure full impact of the current top 10 priorities for research, before addressing further clinical areas.
  • The methods and findings for translating research priorities to fundable research questions for learning disabilities has been published. Work will begin on developing a translation phase for research priorities relating to DLD in 2024.
  • There will be ongoing activities promoting the RCSLT research priorities and translated questions and collating emerging research relating to the priorities.

How can the RCSLT research team support me?

The research team are happy to support your activities in relation to any of the research priorities. We can provide advice about your project, a letter of support and relevant resources to support your activity. We can also help you to share information on the research/activities that you are carrying out.

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