Developing benchmark inventories to assess the content of telephone consultations in accident and emergency departments: Use of the Delphi technique


  • Robert Crouch RN, PhD, FRCN,

    1. Consultant Nurse / Senior Lecturer, Emergency Department Southampton General Hospital, and School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Southampton, Southampton, United Kingdom
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Jeremy Dale MB, BS, MA, PhD, FRCGP,

    1. Professor of Primary Care, University of Warwick, Warwick, United Kingdom
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Rosemary Crow RGN, SCM, HV, MA, PhD

    1. Professor of Nursing Science, European Institute of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Surrey, United Kingdom
    Search for more papers by this author

Robert Crouch, Consultant Nurse/Senior Lecturer, Emergency Department, Southampton General Hospital, Tremona Road, Southampton, SO16 6YD, England. Email:


The provision of telephone advice to members of the general public from staff based in accident and emergency departments is common practice. However, it is largely conducted on an ad hoc basis without the use of formal guidelines or decision support. The evidence base from which to derive guidelines for the telephone assessment and advice of many common conditions is lacking. This study, using the Delphi technique, was undertaken to develop a number of benchmarks for use as objective measures against which the comprehensiveness of telephone assessments could be tested. Consensus views on the essential and desirable items to be considered for each of 10 presenting complaints was achieved. It is argued that establishing consensus views on clinical topics provides an effective means of developing an evidence base where other sources of evidence are lacking.