How to use the Delphi method to aid in decision making and build consensus in pharmacy education

Amanda A. Olsen, Michael D. Wolcott, Stuart T. Haines, Kristin K. Janke, Jacqueline E. McLaughlin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

29 Scopus citations


Our situation: As pharmacy educators, we often encounter situations such as designing new curricula or establishing shared values for an organization that may be ambiguous or controversial. To generate effective solutions, it is often necessary to build group consensus with key stakeholders. The purpose of this paper is to describe and provide recommendations for using the Delphi method, a process for facilitating discussions and aiding in decision making. Methodological literature review: An overview of the Delphi method, including its multiple variations, is presented. Steps necessary to complete a Delphi study (building a protocol, developing a research question, defining panelists and panel size, piloting the protocol, round one item creation and analysis, round two and beyond, consensus, increasing clarity, and reporting) is described. Our recommendations and their application(s): Practical recommendations are provided to support use the Delphi method to build consensus in research. These recommendations include: (1) clarify the purpose of the Delphi, (2) ensure the research questions are grounded in the literature and are relevant, (3) carefully consider panelist processes, (4) determine any definitions that should be given to or developed by panelists, (5) determine methods for enhancing clarity, and (6) employ methods to reduce attrition. Potential impact: The Delphi method provides a systematic approach to generating consensus in pharmacy education for commonly encountered situations such as committee meetings, research studies, faculty retreats, classroom activities, and lab meetings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1376-1385
Number of pages10
JournalCurrents in Pharmacy Teaching and Learning
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Inc.


  • Consensus
  • Convergence
  • Decision making
  • Delphi
  • Pharmacy
  • Research methods

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Review


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