Consensus development methods: what is the role of qualitative research?

L Calman, L C Carlisle, T Ibbotson, E Nelson

Research output: Other contribution


This presentation will explore the contribution of qualitative research to consensus development methods. Consensus methods are increasing being used in health care, particularly in the development of clinical guidelines; they can also be used in the research context to involve stakeholders in research. Common approaches to consensus are the Delphi method and the nominal group technique. In 2004 the Practice Education Facilitator (PEF) role was established in Scotland to ensure that student nurse/midwife practice experience is of the highest quality, primarily through the support of clinical mentors. The project team were commissioned by NHS Education for Scotland to conduct a 3 year evaluation (2005-8) evaluation of the implementation of this role. The overall design was impact evaluation, including the use of case studies, and involved both quantitative and qualitative approaches. During the project two consensus conferences were used. The first, to reach consensus on key criteria for the choice of case study sites. Trigger presentations were used to generate free discussion in small groups. This discussion was audio taped and analysed thematically. A second group session further developed this discussion by identifying priorities and a voting procedure was used to develop consensus on the key criteria. The second consensus conference gathered opinion on the implications of study findings and facilitated agreement on potential recommendations for the future. We will highlight the contribution of focus group discussion to the development of consensus and indicate the strengths and limitations of involving stakeholders in project development and the interpretation of findings.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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