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Box 2.3.a: An example of the benefits of using an advisory group in the planning process

A review of HIV prevention for men who have sex with men (Rees 2004) employed explicit consensus methods to shape the review with the help of practitioners, commissioners and researchers. An advisory group was convened of people from research/academic, policy and service organizations and representatives from charities and organizations that have emerged from and speak on behalf of people living with, or affected by, HIV/AIDS. The group met three times over the course of the review.


The group was presented with background information about the proposed review: its scope, conceptual basis, aims, research questions, stages and methods. Discussion focused on the policy relevance and political background/context to the review; the eligibility criteria for studies (interventions, outcomes, subgroups of men); dissemination strategies; and time scales. Two rounds of voting identified and prioritized outcomes for analysis. Open discussion identified subgroups of vulnerable men. A framework for characterizing interventions of interest was refined through advisory group discussions.


The review followed this guidance by adopting the identified interventions, populations and outcomes to refine the inclusion criteria, performing a meta-analysis as well as subgroup analyses. The subsequent product included synthesized evidence directly related to health inequalities.