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Arch Hellen Med, 28(6), November-December 2011, 839-848


The Delphi research methodology and its applications in the healthcare sciences

Τ. Bellali,1,2 I. Karamitri2
1Alexandreio Technological Educational Institute, Thessaloniki,
2Hellenic Open University, Patras, Greece

The Delphi research methodology has been applied extensively in a wide variety of scientific fields and it is becoming a popular choice among health researchers. The method aims at obtaining the most reliable consensus among a pre-selected panel of experts by sending out a series of sequential questionnaires, particularly in fields where data are unavailable or impaired. The advantages of the Delphi method include the absence of geographical limitations, since the questionnaires are often completed by mail or e-mail, and the possibility for the participants to express their views impersonally on matters which emerge from the experience and interaction of all the panel members. The characteristics of the Delphi methodology are anonymity, expert input, iteration with controlled feedback and statistical group response. Health issues which have been investigated using the Delphi method include, inter alia, solving clinical problems, drawing up clinical protocols and guidelines, defining priorities in clinical research, planning health services and identifying inadequacies in the health education curriculum. Delphi is a flexible research methodology and subsequently numerous modifications of the classical version have been developed. The purpose of this paper is to provide an overview of the basic principles of the Delphi method and to describe each stage of the procedure in detail yet in simplified terms, specifically for researchers who would like to use this methodology for the first time. In order to maximize the comprehension of the theoretical terms and relate them to their practical application, the theory is illustrated by research examples from the health sector.

Key words: Clinical guidelines, Consensus methods, Delphi technique, Health sciences, Research methodology.

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