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      How to use the nominal group and Delphi techniques


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          Introduction The Nominal Group Technique (NGT) and Delphi Technique are consensus methods used in research that is directed at problem-solving, idea-generation, or determining priorities. While consensus methods are commonly used in health services literature, few studies in pharmacy practice use these methods. This paper provides an overview of the NGT and Delphi technique, including the steps involved and the types of research questions best suited to each method, with examples from the pharmacy literature. Methodology The NGT entails face-to-face discussion in small groups, and provides a prompt result for researchers. The classic NGT involves four key stages: silent generation, round robin, clarification and voting (ranking). Variations have occurred in relation to generating ideas, and how ‘consensus’ is obtained from participants. The Delphi technique uses a multistage self-completed questionnaire with individual feedback, to determine consensus from a larger group of ‘experts.’ Questionnaires have been mailed, or more recently, e-mailed to participants. When to use The NGT has been used to explore consumer and stakeholder views, while the Delphi technique is commonly used to develop guidelines with health professionals. Method choice is influenced by various factors, including the research question, the perception of consensus required, and associated practicalities such as time and geography. Limitations The NGT requires participants to personally attend a meeting. This may prove difficult to organise and geography may limit attendance. The Delphi technique can take weeks or months to conclude, especially if multiple rounds are required, and may be complex for lay people to complete.

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          Nominal group technique: an effective method for obtaining group consensus.

          This paper aims to demonstrate the versatility and application of nominal group technique as a method for generating priority information. Nominal group technique was used in the context of four focus groups involving clinical experts from the emergency department (ED) and obstetric and midwifery areas of a busy regional hospital to assess the triage and management of pregnant women in the ED. The data generated were used to create a priority list of discussion triggers for the subsequent Participatory Action Research Group. This technique proved to be a productive and efficient data collection method which produced information in a hierarchy of perceived importance and identified real world problems. This information was vital in initiating the participatory action research project and is recommended as an effective and reliable data collection method, especially when undertaking research with clinical experts. © 2012 Blackwell Publishing Asia Pty Ltd.
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            The nominal group technique: a research tool for general practice?

            Qualitative methods are increasingly recognized as valuable, yet practitioners face difficult decisions in their choice of method and the process of analysis. The nominal group technique combines quantitative and qualitative data collection in a group setting, and avoids problems of group dynamics associated with other group methods such as brainstorming, Delphi and focus groups. Idea generation and problem solving are combined in a structured group process, which encourages and enhances the participation of group members. The stages involved in conducting a nominal group are described, and practical problems of its use in a health care setting are discussed with reference to a study of the priorities of care of diabetic patients, carers and health professionals. Some potential applications of the technique in audit and exploratory research are also outlined.
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              Consensus development methods: a review of best practice in creating clinical guidelines.

              Although there is debate about the appropriate place of guidelines in clinical practice, guidelines can be seen as one way of assisting clinicians in decision-making. Given the likely diversity of opinion that any group of people may display when considering a topic, methods are needed for organising subjective judgements. Three principal methods (Delphi, nominal group technique, consensus development conference) exist which share the common objective of synthesising judgements when a state of uncertainty exists. To identify the factors that shape and influence the clinical guidelines that emerge from consensus development methods and to make recommendations about best practice in the use of such methods. Five electronic databases were searched: Medline (1966-1996), PsychLIT (1974-1996), Social Science Citation Index (1990-1996), ABI Inform and Sociofile. From the searches and reference lists of articles a total of 177 empirical and review articles were selected for review. The output from consensus development methods may be affected by: the way the task is set (choice of cues, recognition of contextual cues, the focus of the task, the comprehensiveness of the scenarios); the selection of participants (choice of individuals, degree of homogeneity of the group, their background, their number); the selection and presentation of scientific information (format, extent to which its quality and content is assessed); the way any interaction is structured (number of rating rounds, ensuring equitable participation, physical environment for meetings); and the method of synthesising individual judgements (definition of agreement, rules governing outliers, method of mathematical aggregation). Although a considerable amount of research has been carried out, many aspects have not been investigated sufficiently. For the time being at least, advice on those aspects has, therefore, to be based on the user's own commonsense and the experience of those who have used or participated in these methods. Even in the long term, some aspects will not be amenable to scientific study. Meanwhile, adherence to best practice will enhance the validity, reliability and impact of the clinical guidelines produced.

                Author and article information

                Int J Clin Pharm
                Int J Clin Pharm
                International Journal of Clinical Pharmacy
                Springer International Publishing (Cham )
                5 February 2016
                5 February 2016
                : 38
                : 655-662
                [ ]School of Pharmacy, Menzies Health Institute Queensland, Griffith University, Gold Coast Campus, Gold Coast, QLD Australia
                [ ]Manchester Pharmacy School, University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester, UK
                [ ]Manchester Academic Health Sciences Centre, Oxford Road, Manchester, UK
                © The Author(s) 2016

                Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

                Review Paper
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                © Springer International Publishing 2016

                Pharmacology & Pharmaceutical medicine
                consensus methods,delphi technique,nominal group technique


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