Defining a Research Agenda for Patient-Reported Outcomes in Surgery: Using a Delphi Survey of Stakeholders

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Abstract

Importance

Identifying timely and important research questions using relevant patient-reported outcomes (PROs) in surgery remains paramount in the current medical climate. The inaugural Patient-Reported Outcomes in Surgery (PROS) Conference brought together stakeholders in PROs research in surgery with the aim of creating a research agenda to help determine future directions and advance cross-disciplinary collaboration.

Objective

To create a research agenda to help determine future directions and advance cross-disciplinary collaboration on the use of PROs in surgery.

Design, Setting, and Participants

An iterative web-based interface was used to create a conference-based, modified Delphi survey for registrants at the PROS Conference (January 29-30, 2015), including surgeons, PRO researchers, payers, and other stakeholders. In round 1, research items were generated from qualitative review of responses to open-ended prompts. In round 2, items were ranked using a 5-point Likert scale; attendees were also asked to submit any new items. In round 3, the top 30 items and newly submitted items were redistributed for final ranking using a 3-point Likert scale. The top 20 items by mean rating were selected for the research agenda.

Main Outcomes and Measures

An expert-generated research agenda on PROs in surgery.

Results

Of the 143 people registered for the conference, 137 provided valid email addresses. There was a wide range of attendees, with the 3 most common groups being plastic surgeons (28 [19.6%]), general surgeons (19 [13.3%]), and researchers (25 [17.5%]). In round 1, participants submitted 459 items, which were reduced through qualitative review to 53 distinct items across 7 themes of PROs research. A research agenda was formulated after 2 successive rounds of ranking. The research agenda identified 3 themes important for future PROs research in surgery: (1) PROs in the decision-making process, (2) integrating PROs into the electronic health record, and (3) measuring quality in surgery with PROs.

Conclusions and Relevance

The PROS Conference research agenda was created using a modified Delphi survey of stakeholders that will help researchers, surgeons, and funders identify crucial areas of future PROs research in surgery.

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