Article review: Consensus methodologies in qualitative research
What types of methodologies are used to develop a consensus statement? I’m in the midst of helping to write a consensus statement manuscript in education and ran into this great review article. It’s from the British Medical Journal in 1995.
Basically, there are 2 general types of methodologies:
- Delphi Process
- Nominal Group Technique
An example of a consensus topic might be: How will patient care be affected by the new ACGME Duty Hours rules? The Delphi process takes several rounds of discussions:
- Round 1: Opinions are expressed on a particular issue and categorized into headings
- Round 2: Participants rank their agreement with each statement in the summarized opinions.
- Round 3: Participants view the Round #2 rankings and comments and re-rank their agreement with the opinions.
The final results are analyzed for agreement. If there is no consensus, Round 3 is repeated. The Delphi Process allows a large number of experts to participate in a consensus statement because this entire process can be performed via email.
Nominal Group Technique
In contrast to the Delphi Process, the nominal group technique involves fewer experts (usually 9-12). Furthermore, this approach requires face-to-face discussion, which adds a more personal element to the methodology.
- Step 1: Each participant contributes one idea to the facilitator, who records it on a flip chart/projector screen.
- Step 2: The comments are grouped into different categories.
- Step 3: Each participant privately ranks each idea.
- Step 4: The results are tabulated and discussed in a large-group setting.
- Step 5: Each participant privately re-ranks each idea.
- Step 6: The results are tabulated to determine consensus.
Jones J, Hunter D. Consensus methods for medical and health services research. BMJ. 1995, 311(7001), 376-80. Download the free PDF.
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