BACKGROUND: Increasingly, evidence-based health information, in particular evidence from systematic reviews, is being made available to lay audiences, in addition to health professionals. Research efforts have focused on different formats for the lay presentation of health information. However, there is a paucity of data on how patients integrate evidence-based health information with other factors such as their preferences for information and experiences with information-seeking. The aim of this project is to explore how people with multiple sclerosis (MS) integrate health information with their needs, experiences, preferences and values and how these factors can be incorporated into an online resource of evidence-based health information provision for people with MS and their families.
METHODS: This project is an Australian-Italian collaboration between researchers, MS societies and people with MS. Using a four-stage mixed methods design, a model will be developed for presenting evidence-based health information on the Internet for people with MS and their families. This evidence-based health information will draw upon systematic reviews of MS interventions from The Cochrane Library. Each stage of the project will build on the last. After conducting focus groups with people with MS and their family members (Stage 1), we will develop a model for summarising and presenting Cochrane MS reviews (analysis of MS trials) that is integrated with supporting information to aid understanding and decision making. This will be reviewed and finalised with people with MS, family members, health professionals and MS Society staff (Stage 2), before being uploaded to the Internet and evaluated (Stages 3 and 4).
DISCUSSION: This project aims to produce accessible and meaningful evidence-based health information about MS for use in the varied decision making and management situations people encounter in everyday life. It is expected that the findings will be relevant to broader efforts to provide evidence-based health information for patients and the general public. The international collaboration also permits exploration of cultural differences that could inform international practice.
“Obviously there is still a culture and language gap between neuros and MSers and information is going to be the key. As more efficacious DMTs emerge effective tools for communicating the risk-benefit ration of the drugs will need to be developed. Knowledge will be important in the decision making processes. Therefore it will be interesting to see how this project develops. Please watch this space.”
“I am interested to see how this group deal with the denialists, their propaganda and tactics; something that is an increasing problem in the world of instant news via social media.”