Developing an Environmental Health Sciences COVID-19 Research Agenda: Results from the NIEHS Disaster Research Response (DR2) Work Group's Modified Delphi Method

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Sep 19;17(18):6842. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17186842.


Leveraging the community of practice recently established through the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Disaster Research Response (DR2) working group, we used a modified Delphi method to identify and prioritize environmental health sciences Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and associated Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) research questions. Twenty-six individuals with broad expertise across a variety of environmental health sciences subdisciplines were selected to participate among 45 self-nominees. In Round 1, panelists submitted research questions and brief justifications. In Round 2, panelists rated the priority of each question on a nine-point Likert scale. Responses were trichotomized into priority categories (low priority; medium priority; and high priority). A research question was determined to meet consensus if at least 69.2% of panelists rated it within the same priority category. Research needs that did not meet consensus in round 2 were redistributed for re-rating. Fourteen questions met consensus as high priority in round 2, and an additional 14 questions met consensus as high priority in round 3. We discuss the impact and limitations of using this approach to identify and prioritize research questions in the context of a disaster response.

Keywords: COVID-19; environmental health; research priorities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Betacoronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections* / epidemiology
  • Coronavirus*
  • Delphi Technique
  • Disease Outbreaks
  • Environmental Health*
  • Humans
  • National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (U.S.)
  • Pandemics / prevention & control*
  • Pneumonia, Viral* / epidemiology
  • Research*
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • United States