The Delphi process is a method for reaching a consensus as a group. It is accomplished by a series of “rounds” or questionnaires, interspersed with controlled feedback. The process begins by providing patient/public partners with background information, and asking them to respond. The first round is typically open ended to identify issues for the subsequent rounds. The next rounds are usually more specific to address particular questions or issues, and typically involve ranking or rating techniques. The process continues until all patient/public partners are satisfied with their responses and no further changes are required. Remember with regard to patient/public engagement, the Delphi process would be used to come to a consensus around a research decision (i.e. priorities, question, design, data collection approach, interpretation of findings, dissemination of findings, etc.).
The Delphi process can be useful for:
- Achieving consensus in an area of uncertainty. Thus, can stimulate new ideas around decisions regarding research priorities and outcomes that are important to patient/public/community partners.
- When your group is not able to meet in person due to geographical and other barriers, which is important if you want to get diverse perspectives (including urban/rural, age, ability, socioeconomic status, gender expression and identity, race, ethnicity, culture, religion, sexual orientation) with regard to lived experience of a health issue(s).
- Allows for anonymity (if patient/public/community partners prefer).
- Enabling patient/public/community research partners to share their experiential knowledge without being influenced by other perspectives or experiences.