In 2014/2015, The BMJ and Research Involvement and Engagement (RIE) became the first journals to routinely include patients and the public in the peer review process of journal articles. This survey explores the perspectives and early experiences of these reviewers.
A cross-sectional survey.
Patient and public reviewers for The BMJ and RIE who have been invited to review.
The response rate was 69% (157/227) for those who had previously reviewed and 31% (67/217) for those who had not yet reviewed. Reviewers described being motivated to review by the opportunity to include the patient voice in the research process, influence the quality of the biomedical literature and ensure it meets the needs of patients. Of the 157 who had reviewed, 127 (81%) would recommend being a reviewer to other patients and carers. 144 (92%) thought more journals should adopt patient and public review. Few reviewers (16/224, 7%) reported concerns about doing open review. Annual acknowledgement on the journals’ websites was welcomed as was free access to journal information. Participants were keen to have access to more online resources and training to improve their reviewing skills. Suggestions on how to improve the reviewing experience included: allowing more time to review; better and more frequent communication; a more user-friendly process; improving guidance on how to review including videos; improving the matching of papers to reviewers’ experience; providing more varied sample reviews and brief feedback on the usefulness of reviews; developing a sense of community among reviewers; and publicising of the contribution that patient and public review brings.
Patient and public reviewers shared practical ideas to improve the reviewing experience and these will be reviewed to enhance the guidance and support given to them.