INTRODUCTION: The Cochrane Collaboration aims to produce relevant and top priority evidence that responds to existing evidence gaps. Hence, research priority setting (RPS) is important to identify which potential research gaps are deemed most important. Moreover, RPS supports future health research to conform both health and health evidence needs. However, studies that are prioritising systematic review topics in public health are surprisingly rare. Therefore, to inform the research agenda of Cochrane Public Health Europe (CPHE), we introduce the protocol of a priority setting study on systematic review topics in several European countries, which is conceptualised as pilot.
METHODS AND ANALYSIS: We will conduct a two-round modified Delphi study in Switzerland, incorporating an anonymous web-based questionnaire, to assess which topics should be prioritised for systematic reviews in public health. In the first Delphi round public health stakeholders will suggest relevant assessment criteria and potential priority topics. In the second Delphi round the participants indicate their (dis)agreement to the aggregated results of the first round and rate the potential review topics with the predetermined criteria on a four-point Likert scale. As we invite a wide variety of stakeholders we will compare the results between the different stakeholder groups.
ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: We have received ethical approval from the ethical board of the University of Bremen, Germany (principal investigation is conducted at the University of Bremen) and a certificate of non-objection from the Canton of Zurich, Switzerland (fieldwork will be conducted in Switzerland). The results of this study will be further disseminated through peer reviewed publication and will support systematic review author groups (i.a. CPHE) to improve the relevance of the groups´ future review work. Finally, the proposed priority setting study can be used as a framework by other systematic review groups when conducting a priority setting study in a different context.