The Delphi process is a method for reaching a consensus as a group. It can be used in patient/public engagement when trying to come to a consensus around a research decision (i.e. "What research priorities matter most to us and should be addressed in the research project?" ). It is accomplished by a series of “rounds” or questionnaires, interspersed with controlled feedback. The process begins by providing patient/public partners with some background information around the research topic that will help them make a decision, and asking them to respond. The first round is typically open ended to identify issues for the subsequent rounds (e.g. "What would help you in navigating your day-to-day life?"). The next rounds are usually more specific to address particular questions or issues, and typically involve ranking or rating techniques (e.g. "Now that we have a list, let's rank which of these you think are the most important priorities for our research project.") . The process continues until all patient/public partners are satisfied with their responses and no further changes are required.
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 partners.
- When your group is not able to meet in person due to geographical and other barriers (as the process can be done online), 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 partners prefer).
- Enabling patient/public partners to share their experiential knowledge without being influenced by other perspectives or experiences.