Clinical trials that assess the benefits and harms of an intervention do so by measuring and reporting outcomes. Inconsistent selection and diversity in the choice of outcomes make it challenging to directly compare interventions. To achieve an agreed core set of outcomes, a consensus methodology is recommended, comprising a web-based Delphi survey and a face-to-face consensus meeting. However, UK government regulations to control the pandemic prohibited plans for a face-to-face consensus meeting as part of the Core Rehabilitation Outcome Set for Single-Sided Deafness (CROSSSD) study.
This study aims to evaluate the modifications made by the CROSSSD study team to achieve consensus using web-based methods, but with minimal deviation from the original study protocol.
The study team worked with health care users and professionals to translate the planned face-to-face consensus meeting in a web-based format, preserving the key elements of the nominal group technique. A follow-up survey gathered evaluation feedback on the experiences of the 22 participating members. Feedback covered premeeting preparation, the process of facilitated discussions and voting, ability to contribute, and perceived fairness of the outcome.
Overall, 98% (53/54) of feedback responses agreed or strongly agreed with the statements given, indicating that the web-based meeting achieved its original goals of open discussion, debate, and voting to agree with a core outcome set for single-sided deafness. Hearing-impaired participants were fully engaged, but there were some methodological challenges. For the participants, challenges included building rapport, understanding, and delivering the tasks in hand. For the study team, challenges included the need for thorough preparation and management of the unpredictability of tasks on the day.
Sharing our experiences and lessons learned can benefit future core outcome set developers. Overcoming the challenges of delivering a web-based consensus exercise in the face of the pandemic can be applied more generally to maximize inclusiveness, enhance geographical access, and reduce research costs.
Roulla Katiri, Deborah A Hall, Derek J Hoare, Kathryn Fackrell, Adele Horobin, Nóra Buggy, Nicholas Hogan, Pádraig T Kitterick; Core Rehabilitation Outcome Set For Single-Sided Deafness (CROSSSD) Initiative
- COS methods research