Background: A number of conceptual frameworks for patient and public involvement (PPI) in research have been published in recent years. Although some are based on empirical research and/or existing theory, in many cases the basis of the conceptual frameworks is not evident. In 2015 a systematic review was published by a collaborative review group reporting a meta-narrative approach to synthesise a conceptual framework for PPI in research (hereafter 'the synthesis'). As the first such synthesis it is important to critically scrutinise this meta-narrative review. The 'RAMESES publication standards for meta-narrative reviews' provide a framework for critically appraising published meta-narrative reviews such as this synthesis, although we recognise that these were published concurrently. Thus the primary objective of this research was to appraise this synthesis of conceptual frameworks for PPI in research in order to inform future conceptualisation. Methods: Four researchers critically appraised the synthesis using the RAMESES publication standards as a framework for assessment. Data were extracted independently using a data extraction form closely based on the RAMESES publication standards. Each item from the standards was assessed on a four point scale (0 = unmet, 1 = minimally met, 2 = partly met, 3 = fully met). The four critical appraisals were then compared and any differences resolved through discussion. Results: A good degree of inter-rater reliability was found. A consensus assessment of the synthesis as a meta-narrative review of PPI conceptual frameworks was achieved with an average of '1' (minimally met) across all 20 items. Two key items ('evidence of adherence to guiding principles of meta-narrative review' and 'analysis and synthesis processes') were both wholly unmet. Therefore the paper did not meet our minimum requirements for a meta-narrative review. We found the RAMESES publication standards were a useful tool for carrying out a critical appraisal although some minor improvements are suggested. Conclusions: Although the aims of the authors' synthesis were commendable, and the conceptual framework presented was coherent and attractive, the paper did not demonstrate a transparent and replicable meta-narrative review approach. There is a continuing need for a more rigorous synthesis of conceptual frameworks for PPI.
- Conceptual framework
- Critical appraisal
- Meta-narrative review
- Patient and public involvement