The Delphi technique in health sciences education research

Med Teach. 2005 Nov;27(7):639-43. doi: 10.1080/13611260500069947.


The Delphi technique is a method of collecting opinion on a particular research question. It is based on the premise that pooled intelligence enhances individual judgement and captures the collective opinion of a group of experts without being physically assembled. The conventional Delphi uses a series of questionnaires to generate expert opinion in an anonymous fashion and takes place over a series of rounds. The technique is becoming a popular strategy that straddles both quantitative and qualitative realms. Issues that are critical to its validity are the development of the questionnaire; definition of consensus and how to interpret non-consensus; criteria for and selection of the expert panel; sample size; and data analysis. The authors used the Delphi technique to assist with making recommendations regarding education and training for medical practitioners working in district hospitals in South Africa. The objective of this Delphi was to obtain consensus opinion on content and methods relating to the maintenance of competence of these doctors. They believe the experience gained from their work may be useful for other health science education researchers wishing to use the Delphi method.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence / standards*
  • Delphi Technique*
  • Education, Medical / standards*
  • Humans
  • Research Design*