Conducting Online Expert panels: a feasibility and experimental replicability studyReport as inadecuate

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BMC Medical Research Methodology

, 11:174

First Online: 23 December 2011Received: 12 August 2011Accepted: 23 December 2011


BackgroundThis paper has two goals. First, we explore the feasibility of conducting online expert panels to facilitate consensus finding among a large number of geographically distributed stakeholders. Second, we test the replicability of panel findings across four panels of different size.

MethodWe engaged 119 panelists in an iterative process to identify definitional features of Continuous Quality Improvement CQI. We conducted four parallel online panels of different size through three one-week phases by using the RAND-s ExpertLens process. In Phase I, participants rated potentially definitional CQI features. In Phase II, they discussed rating results online, using asynchronous, anonymous discussion boards. In Phase III, panelists re-rated Phase I features and reported on their experiences as participants.

Results66% of invited experts participated in all three phases. 62% of Phase I participants contributed to Phase II discussions and 87% of them completed Phase III. Panel disagreement, measured by the mean absolute deviation from the median MAD-M, decreased after group feedback and discussion in 36 out of 43 judgments about CQI features. Agreement between the four panels after Phase III was fair four-way kappa = 0.36; they agreed on the status of five out of eleven CQI features. Results of the post-completion survey suggest that participants were generally satisfied with the online process. Compared to participants in smaller panels, those in larger panels were more likely to agree that they had debated each others- view points.

ConclusionIt is feasible to conduct online expert panels intended to facilitate consensus finding among geographically distributed participants. The online approach may be practical for engaging large and diverse groups of stakeholders around a range of health services research topics and can help conduct multiple parallel panels to test for the reproducibility of panel conclusions.

Electronic supplementary materialThe online version of this article doi:10.1186-1471-2288-11-174 contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Author: Dmitry Khodyakov - Susanne Hempel - Lisa Rubenstein - Paul Shekelle - Robbie Foy - Susanne Salem-Schatz - Sean O-Neill - Ma



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