SIGN has developed a literature search that is used to identify published studies, both qualitative and quantitative, that reflect patients' and carers' experiences and preferences in relation to the clinical topic.
SIGN works in close partnership with patient organisations and charities that represent and/or support patients and carers. Before the first meeting of the guideline development group, we ask them which issues they think the guideline should address.
Consulting other NHS organisations
SIGN writes to other NHS organisations (eg NICE and the NHS Board Designated Directors for Public Involvement) and individuals to find out if any local research on patient views has been performed. This might include, for example, patient focus groups to help in the redesign of services, or questionnaire studies to gauge levels of patient satisfaction with existing services
Direct feedback from patients and carers
Where published evidence is scarce and inadequate feedback from patient organisations has been received, patient and carer views may be sought via direct contact with users of the service. This has been achieved using focus groups, for example.
The information captured from these approaches is fed back directly to guideline groups to influence the key questions underpinning the guideline.
You can read more about these approaches in SIGN 100: a handbook for patients and carers. (PDF)