A Delphi Study to Identify Research Priorities for the Therapy Profession in Northern Ireland

McDonough et al. (2011) full text summary PDF

For which topic were research priorities identified?

therapy professions

In which location was the research priority setting conducted?

Europe - United Kingdom

Why was it conducted at all?

In a climate of potentially limited resources and greater concentration on making the best use of available resources the therapy professions in NI are recognised as key care managers and deliverers. It follows that individually and collectively they need to have a clear vision of taking forward their research agendas and to prioritise research programmes that will best serve advancing the quality of the therapeutic interventions they provide.

What was the objective?

to identify research priorities for each of the six therapy professions through gaining consensus on these priorities from the professionals themselves as well as from key stakeholders and service users

What was the outcome?

a ranking list of 20 research topics

How long did the research prioritization take?

18 months

Which methods were used to identify research priorities?


How were the priorities for research identified exactly?

Step 1: Delphi round 1: survey asking: What do you think are the research priorities for your profession at present? What do you think are the research priorities for the therapies professions at present?. Step 2: data processing: thematic analysis. Step 3: Delphi round 2: participants were asked to rate each topic, statements that had reached consensus were eliminated and not included in round 3. Step 4: Delphi round 3: participants were asked to re-rate based on group medians. Step 5: participants were sent top twenty research priorities and asked to indicate their views on each priority in relation to timeframe (short-term priority, medium-term priority or long-term priority)

Which stakeholders took part?

Professionals working in the clinical areas (podiatrists, dietitians, occupational therapists, orthoptics, physiotherapists, speech and language therapists), academics, service users, key stakeholders. Delphi round 1: 180 participants. Delphi round 2: 142 participants. Delphi round 3: 104 participants.

How were stakeholders recruited?

The expert panels for this study were recruited from different sectors relevant to the therapies professions. This included: professionals working in the clinical areas: podiatrists; dietitians; occupational therapists; orthoptics; physiotherapists; speech and language therapists, academics from the above therapy professions working in higher education institutions, key Stakeholders (Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety; Health and Social Care Trusts; Professional Therapy organizations; Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA)), and service users (Patient and Client Council).

Were stakeholders actively involved or did they just participate?

Stakeholders not only participated but were also actively involved in the research prioritization process: They were part of a steering group. The steering group consisted of 12 members, who provided support and advice. Additionally, a research advisory group consisting of 12 members was established.