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Can the Delphi method be used to engage with patients?

Posted: 4th June 2024
Categories: Uncategorised

Can the Delphi method be used to engage with patients?


It is well established that the Delphi method can be used to engage clinicians and drive the development of optimal care standards 1–4. By gathering the opinions of a panel of experts over multiple rounds of feedback, the Delphi method allows for consensus building, the generation of evidence, and peer mobilisation. Healthcare practitioners often highlight the importance of patient education and awareness, stating that shared, informed decision-making is a crucial aspect of healthcare5–7. Patients must see themselves as stakeholders who are empowered to take ownership of their condition 8,9.

On an individual level, engaging with patients and carers helps them to understand their treatment options and adhere to their chosen therapy10–12. At a wider level, patient and carer contributions provide legitimacy and transparency to clinical guidelines9,13. In fact, international guideline standards state patient involvement is a core principle for developing high-quality clinical practice guidelines14. However, it can be difficult to understand how to effectively communicate with patients and incorporate their views in a systematic way when developing overarching care standards15,16.


So, can the Delphi method be used to build consensus directly with patients?



In short, yes! Using a modified Delphi method allows a group of experienced individuals to get together to discuss challenges and opportunities within a specific therapy area. This group can be comprised of individuals from a variety of backgrounds, including specialist clinicians, nurses, hospital administrators, patients, carers, and patient representatives. This ensures that a wide range of voices are engaged and heard throughout the process and help with decision-making at each stage.


How does the Delphi method involve patients in consensus building?

Once initial statements have been developed it is then possible to test these with a wider audience. Triducive does this through the dissemination of surveys to a representative sample of the expert audience (in this case, including patients). Once results are received and the level of agreement with statements established, the next step may be an additional round of testing (with modifications made to any statements not reaching agreement) or moving to discuss the results with the steering group (if sufficient agreement across statements is achieved).



Overall, when effectively conducted the Delphi method is an excellent way to establish consensus on the optimal standard of care when evidence is lacking. As patients are central stakeholders in healthcare, it is important they are included when developing optimal care standards. Delphi studies are flexible and can be designed to include patients and patient representatives, either through their inclusion in the core steering group or by gathering their opinions through a consensus survey. Both methods allow for patient and carer voices to be heard and incorporated into the development of clinical protocols. It’s a surefire way to ensure better decisions get actioned!



Discover how Triducive can help


Triducive is an expert medical communications agency that generates consensus-led evidence, which is published and supports change in healthcare. Through Delphi consensus studies, Triducive has experience in publishing over 50 manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals. Our team of healthcare experts and scientific writers is ready to provide guidance and support at any stage of the evidence generation process. Contact us for more information about Delphi consensus studies.



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