Purpose: The purpose of this study was to achieve consensus on specific research topics under the national dental hygiene research agenda categories developed by the ADHA Council on Research.
Methods: A Delphi technique was used to survey a group of 48 dental hygiene experts to gain consensus about the appropriateness of topics for dental hygiene research. The study was carried out in three phases: a development and pilot-testing phase and two rounds of mailed surveys. Responses were analyzed using descriptive statistics. Instrument reliability was analyzed using the Pearson Product-Moment Correlation Coefficient and Cronbach's Alpha for internal consistency.
Results: Sixty-six topics reflective of the research agenda categories were identified through the first phase. Return rates of 100% and 94% were achieved for the two survey rounds. Instrument reliability was established at .91 and internal consistency at .94. After two rounds, consensus was reached on 37 of the 66 topics.
Conclusions: Each of the categories comprising the ADHA national dental hygiene research agenda was well represented by the 37 topics. This finding provided evidence that there was consensus on the national agenda. However, reaching consensus is just the first step in the development of a long-range plan to guide research efforts and to promote depth in the development of a body of knowledge based on scientific inquiry.