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.
International Journal of Clinical Pharmacy
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Clinical Pharmacy and Pharmacy Practice