Using consensus from experts to inform a shared understanding of subjective terms
Evidence and practice    

Using consensus from experts to inform a shared understanding of subjective terms

Joanne Durkin PhD student, School of Health, University of New England, Armidale NSW, Australia
Kim Usher Head of school, University of New England, Armidale NSW, Australia
Debra Jackson Director, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, England

Background Consensus methods such as Delphi studies or the group nominal method have long been used in healthcare research to develop services, processes or policies and inform further research. However, concept analysis and meta-synthesis tools are used more frequently to seek a collective understanding of subjective terms.

Aim To examine the use of consensus methods to develop linguistic clarity in healthcare research.

Discussion The authors argue that consensus methods are appropriate for determining linguistic clarity when researching subjective terms. The paper includes a sample research design that incorporates this approach. Consensus methods, supported by interpretive synthesis of the concept and research, can enrich our understanding of subjective terms used in healthcare research.

Conclusion Understanding the importance of linguistic clarity is an important step for healthcare researchers. Consensus methods, if managed effectively and conducted in line with the appropriate research guidelines, can bring a richer understanding to concepts.

Implications for practice This paper presents a research example that incorporates the use of a consensus method and which healthcare researchers can use to reduce the potential ambiguity of subjective terms in their research.

Nurse Researcher. doi: 10.7748/nr.2019.e1622

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and has been checked for plagiarism using automated software


Conflict of interest

None declared

Durkin J, Usher K, Jackson D (2019) Using consensus from experts to inform a shared understanding of subjective terms. Nurse Researcher. doi: 10.7748/nr.2019.e1622

Published online: 21 March 2019

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