Can the needs of the critically ill child be identified using scenarios? Experiences of a modified Delphi study
The Delphi technique enables the structuring of group opinion and discussion using a survey approach, maintaining the anonymity of panel members and preventing contamination of individual responses through peer pressure. The Delphi technique was used by the authors to form an expert opinion regarding the needs of a critically ill child. The abstract and evaluative nature of need was a key issue to arise during early pilot work and stimulated the first author to undertake a concept analysis of the term ‘need’. The defining attributes arising from the concept analysis were used to construct two hypothetical case studies for the modified Delphi; these were used as part of the questionnaire for all three rounds. In the first round, the panel was asked to identify the needs of the child in the two case studies; in subsequent rounds the panel activity involved modifying these need statements and indicating the importance, frequency and maximum acceptable delay in meeting each need. Extensive pilot work was required for each round of the modified Delphi. This article evaluates the use of this technique to identify needs, discusses key features arising from the results and examines the difficulties experienced by the respondents in completing the time scales.