ACCORD guideline for reporting consensus-based methods in biomedical research and clinical practice: a study protocol.
Gattrell WT., Hungin AP., Price A., Winchester CC., Tovey D., Hughes EL., van Zuuren EJ., Goldman K., Logullo P., Matheis R., Harrison N.
BACKGROUND: Structured, systematic methods to formulate consensus recommendations, such as the Delphi process or nominal group technique, among others, provide the opportunity to harness the knowledge of experts to support clinical decision making in areas of uncertainty. They are widely used in biomedical research, in particular where disease characteristics or resource limitations mean that high-quality evidence generation is difficult. However, poor reporting of methods used to reach a consensus - for example, not clearly explaining the definition of consensus, or not stating how consensus group panellists were selected - can potentially undermine confidence in this type of research and hinder reproducibility. Our objective is therefore to systematically develop a reporting guideline to help the biomedical research and clinical practice community describe the methods or techniques used to reach consensus in a complete, transparent, and consistent manner. METHODS: The ACCORD (ACcurate COnsensus Reporting Document) project will take place in five stages and follow the EQUATOR Network guidance for the development of reporting guidelines. In Stage 1, a multidisciplinary Steering Committee has been established to lead and coordinate the guideline development process. In Stage 2, a systematic literature review will identify evidence on the quality of the reporting of consensus methodology, to obtain potential items for a reporting checklist. In Stage 3, Delphi methodology will be used to reach consensus regarding the checklist items, first among the Steering Committee, and then among a broader Delphi panel comprising participants with a range of expertise, including patient representatives. In Stage 4, the reporting guideline will be finalised in a consensus meeting, along with the production of an Explanation and Elaboration (E&E) document. In Stage 5, we plan to publish the reporting guideline and E&E document in open-access journals, supported by presentations at appropriate events. Dissemination of the reporting guideline, including a website linked to social media channels, is crucial for the document to be implemented in practice. DISCUSSION: The ACCORD reporting guideline will provide a set of minimum items that should be reported about methods used to achieve consensus, including approaches ranging from simple unstructured opinion gatherings to highly structured processes.