Developing consensus for definitions of key veterinary-specific quality improvement (QI) terms using an eDelphi-study method

Vet Rec. 2022 Jul;191(2):e1174. doi: 10.1002/vetr.1174. Epub 2021 Dec 10.


Background: Quality improvement (QI) methods are a continuous process of iterative tests to improve the quality of a service or product. Using common language has been linked to the successful implementation of QI in human healthcare. This study aimed to assimilate and achieve consensus on veterinary-specific definitions for terms associated with quality care and QI methods in UK veterinary practice.

Methods: A four-round modified eDelphi process with a panel of 50 UK veterinary practice stakeholders was used to generate consensus. The panel selected or suggested the definition they best felt 'fitted' each term. Consensus was reached if there was >70% agreement, and terms were eliminated if there was <15% selection.

Results: Thirty-one panellists completed all three rounds of eDelphi; eight participants completed an optional feedback round. From 14 terms, 10 reached consensus, leaving four unresolved definitions.

Conclusions: A majority of terms reached consensus; 90% were new or amended definitions proposed by panel members. Utilising plain English refined by stakeholders will allow successful implementation of QI in veterinary healthcare. Not all terms achieved consensus, highlighting a need for further research to enable successful integration of QI principles as seen in human healthcare.

Publication types

  • Consensus Development Conference

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Consensus
  • Delivery of Health Care / standards*
  • Delivery of Health Care / trends
  • Delphi Technique*
  • Humans
  • Quality Improvement*
  • United Kingdom
  • Veterinary Medicine / standards*
  • Veterinary Medicine / trends