Use of modified Delphi introduces the risk of chronological bias during clinical research interventions
evidence and practice    

Use of modified Delphi introduces the risk of chronological bias during clinical research interventions

Kaylynn Armstrong Registered Nurse, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas TX, US
Hend Nadim Research Coordinator, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas TX, US
DaiWai Olson Professor, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas TX, US
Sonja Stutzman Project Manager, Peter O’Donnell Jr Brain Institute, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas TX, US

Why you should read this article:
  • To gain insight into what chronological bias is and how it can affect the outcome of a study

  • To find out how to improve the design of your next study

  • To develop a thorough understanding of how to interpret research results that may be at risk of chronological bias, the ‘Hawthorne effect’ or performance bias

Background A study aimed at reducing the time spent on the phone obtaining insurance preauthorisation in a neurosurgical clinic was successfully completed. However, the researchers were unable to reject the null hypothesis because of a combination of chronological bias and the Hawthorne effect.

Aim To increase nurse researchers’ awareness of the potential to introduce a chronological bias as a confounder in clinical research and suggest potential alternative approaches to study design.

Discussion The researcher shared the study’s purpose, design and outcome measure with the participants before collecting the baseline data. This enabled the participants to alter their practice before the intervention was implemented (a chronological bias) and change their behaviour surrounding the outcome (the Hawthorne effect).

Conclusion The use of the Delphi method became a catalyst for change before the collection of baseline data, the combination of chronological bias and the Hawthorne effect affecting the study’s results.

Implications for practice Nurse researchers seeking to improve practice should collect baseline data before informing participants and consider the risks and benefits of blinding (concealment) surrounding the outcome.

Nurse Researcher. doi: 10.7748/nr.2020.e1742

Peer review

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

Correspondence

sonja.stutzman@utsouthwestern.edu

Conflict of interest

None declared

Armstrong K, Nadim H, Olson D et al (2020) Use of modified Delphi introduces the risk of chronological bias during clinical research interventions. Nurse Researcher. doi: 10.7748/nr.2020.e1742

Published online: 19 November 2020

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