Engaging Nurses in Research and Identifying Nursing Research Priorities Using the Delphi Method

Monday, 22 July 2013

Laurie Ecoff, PhD, RN, NEA-BC
Nursing, Sharp Memorial Hospital, San Diego, CA

Learning Objective 1: The learner will be able to describe the use of the Delphi method to engage nurses in research and identify nursing research topics and priorities

Learning Objective 2: The learner will be able to discuss the use of an electronic survey format to conduct a Delphi study.

Purpose: The purpose of using the Delphi method was to determine nursing research topics and priorities. Secondary purposes were to provide: 1) an opportunity for registered nurses (RNs) to function as co-investigators and 2) RNs the opportunity to participate in a research study.

Methods: Historically, nursing research priorities were determined through the evaluation of outcome data within three spheres: patient, provider and organization. The Delphi method was used to obtain input from RNs to determine their topics and priorities for research. This method, defined as a structured communication technique, is a systematic, interactive forecasting method which relies on a panel of experts – in this case all RNs employed by the hospital.

Co-investigators for the study were recruited from the hospital-wide Clinical Practice Council. The study was conducted in three phases using an electronic survey format. After obtaining approval from an Institutional Review Board, RNs were sent an email that contained the consent letter and a link to the electronic survey. In Round I, nurses were asked to identify three topics to be researched. The items generated in Round I were sorted and categorized. In Round II, nurses were asked to select the top 10 topics to be studied from the list generated in Round I. In the final round, nurses were asked to prioritize the top five topics. Participant demographics were collected in each round.

Results: Participation ranged from 183 to 280 RNs in each round (up to a 31% response rate). In Round I, over 492 items were sorted and categorized into 73 topics. The final five topics in Round III included patient safety, RN satisfaction and retention, RN-physician relationships, workplace distractions, and employee burnout.

Conclusion: The Delphi method proved to be effective in identifying and prioritizing research topics and engaging nurses in research as co-investigators and participants.