Is There a Consensus on Consensus Methodology? Descriptions and Recommendations for Future Consensus Research

Acad Med. 2016 May;91(5):663-8. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000001092.


The authors of this article reviewed the methodology of three common consensus methods: nominal group process, consensus development panels, and the Delphi technique. The authors set out to determine how a majority of researchers are conducting these studies, how they are analyzing results, and subsequently the manner in which they are reporting their findings. The authors conclude with a set of guidelines and suggestions designed to aid researchers who choose to use the consensus methodology in their work.Overall, researchers need to describe their inclusion criteria. In addition to this, on the basis of the current literature the authors found that a panel size of 5 to 11 members was most beneficial across all consensus methods described. Lastly, the authors agreed that the statistical analyses done in consensus method studies should be as rigorous as possible and that the predetermined definition of consensus must be included in the ultimate manuscript. More specific recommendations are given for each of the three consensus methods described in the article.

MeSH terms

  • Consensus
  • Consensus Development Conferences as Topic*
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Delphi Technique*
  • Group Processes*
  • Humans
  • Research Design* / standards
  • Research Design* / statistics & numerical data