Prioritization of future research topics for children's hospice care by its key stakeholders: a Delphi study

Palliat Med. 2009 Jul;23(5):398-405. doi: 10.1177/0269216309104061. Epub 2009 Mar 20.


The Delphi process, widely used in health research to seek consensus on key issues amongst large stakeholder groups, was adopted to allow families, hospice staff/volunteers and linked professionals to identify and prioritize future research priorities for children's hospice care. In the qualitative Round 1, interviews with families (n = 5), linked professionals (n = 18) and focus groups with hospice staff and volunteers (n = 44) led to the generation of 56 research topics categorised within 14 broad themes. To give a larger number of stakeholders (n = 621) (including families n = 293; hospice staff/volunteers n = 216 and professionals n = 112) the opportunity to rate the importance of each research topic and seek group consensus on the future research priorities for children's hospice care, subsequent Rounds 2 and 3 involved the use of postal questionnaires. Response rates to questionnaires were 44% in Round 2 (274/621) and 83% in Round 3 (204/247). Participants prioritized research topics relating to 1) hospice and respite care needs of young people (aged 16 +), 2) pain and symptom management and 3) bereavement and end-of-life care. There was wide acknowledgement by those took part in the process of the difficulty in rating the topics, and emphasis on the fact that all of the topics raised during the project are of high importance and merit further research. The current salient issues perceived by key stakeholders as being the research priorities for children's hospice care were identified. Addressing these priority topics for research would further contribute to the development of a much needed evidence base in children's hospice and palliative care research and optimise the delivery of children's hospice services that are underpinned by valid and robust research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Child
  • Delphi Technique*
  • Family
  • Focus Groups
  • Hospice Care / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Needs Assessment*
  • Palliative Care / organization & administration*
  • Research / organization & administration*
  • Scotland
  • Terminally Ill