Priority setting Cochrane Work & Cochrane Insurance Medicine

About the project
One of Cochrane Works’ topics is that of work participation interventions and work participation outcomes and their implementation in practice. In this project Cochrane Work and Cochrane Insurance Medicine work in collaboration to establish a priority list for intervention reviews that focus on work participation. This prioritization process aims to identify relevant topics for five new reviews and priorities for updates. Our data collection will consist of the following steps to identify potential topics for systematic reviews: evidence mapping, a stakeholder consultation and steering group decision. We will evaluate the efforts of this evidence mapping process and specify future strategies for priority setting for Cochrane Work, such as a stakeholder consultation in a round-table conference.


For the field of insurance medicine and occupational health ‘work participation’ is one of the most important goals. Cochrane Work and Cochrane Insurance Medicine (CIM) have therefore a joint interest in primary studies about work participation and reviews with a focus on interventions that promote return to work or prevent job loss in individuals with medical conditions. Cochrane reviews should be of high-quality, clinically relevant and well-used by clinicians, patients, policymakers and guideline developers.(1) As our time and resources available for conducting reviews are limited, we must focus our time, money and energy on topics that are the most important. An explicit function for Cochrane fields, such as CIM, is to prioritize review topics especially through stakeholder engagement and to help guide the work of review Groups. Therefore Cochrane Work and CIM work together in this project. The aim of the project is to identify the five highest priority systematic review topics in the area of work participation, to guide the Group's work on new reviews and updates for the next 3 years. We want to update and prioritize our existing portfolio, consider gaps in that portfolio and add new review questions. In this project, we define ‘work participation’ as the (self-perceived) ability of a person to perform paid work despite a health problem. This priority setting will consist of the following phases (2):
1. Preprioritization phase in which we generate an initial list of topics and review questions based on recent systematic reviews and randomized controlled trials. The product of this phase is an evidence map (see below). 
2. Prioritization phase in which we consult stakeholders to determine the priority of the systematic review topics aggregated in the evidence map. The product of this phase is a ranked list of systematic review topics and, preferably, review questions.
3. Postprioritization phase in which we refine the priorities into answerable review questions (PICOs) and implement the review priorities.

Evidence mapping

We define our evidence mapping as a systematic search of interventions aimed to promote work participation. Our evidence map will allow the identifications of gaps in knowledge and future review needs. Our evidence map will present results in a user-friendly format, a visual figure/graph.(3) We will:
  • construct an evidence map of systematic reviews and primary RCTs addressing themes and intervention questions relevant to the topic ‘work participation’ (4)
  • publish the evidence map of the field of ‘work participation’ in a scientific article
  • use the evidence map for prioritizing Cochrane Work reviews.


1. Cochrane Work. 2020 [Available from:]

2. Fadlallah R, El-Harakeh A, Bou-Karroum L, Lotfi T, El-Jardali F, Hishi L, et al. A common framework of steps and criteria for prioritizing topics for evidence syntheses: a systematic review. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology. 2020;120:67-85

3. Gonzalez AG, Schmucker C, Nothacker J, Motschall E, Nguyen TS, Brueckle MS, et al. Health-related preferences of older patients with multimorbidity: an evidence map. BMJ Open. 2019;9(12):e034485

4. Miake-Lye IM, Hempel S, Shanman R, Shekelle PG. What is an evidence map? A systematic review of published evidence maps and their definitions, methods, and products. Systematic reviews. 2016;5:28