Seeking an oracle: using the Delphi process to develop practice guidelines for the treatment of endometriosis with Chinese herbal medicine

Flower, Andrew, Lewith, George T. and Little, Paul (2007) Seeking an oracle: using the Delphi process to develop practice guidelines for the treatment of endometriosis with Chinese herbal medicine. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 13, (9), 969-976. (doi:10.1089/acm.2006.6283).


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Background: For most complementary and alternative medicine interventions, the absence of a high-quality evidence base to define good practice presents a serious problem for clinicians, educators, and researchers. The Delphi process may offer a pragmatic way to establish good practice guidelines until more rigorous forms of assessment can be undertaken.

Objectives: To use a modified Delphi to develop good practice guidelines for a feasibility study exploring the role of Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) in the treatment of endometriosis. To compare the outcomes from Delphi with data derived from a systematic review of the Chinese language database.

Design: An expert group was convened for a three-round Delphi that initially produced key statements relating to the CHM diagnosis and treatment of endometriosis (round 1) and then anonymously rated these on a 1-7 Likert scale (rounds 2 and 3). Statements with a median score of 5 and above were regarded as demonstrating positive group consensus. The differential diagnoses within Chinese Medicine and rating of the clinical value of individual herbs were then contrasted with comparable data from a review of Chinese language reports in the Chinese Biomedical Retrieval System (1978-2002), and China Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine (1985-2002) databases and the Chinese TCM and magazine literature (1984-2004) databases.

Results: Consensus (good practice) guidelines for the CHM treatment of endometriosis relating to common diagnostic patterns, herb selection, dosage, and patient management were produced. The Delphi guidelines demonstrated a high degree of congruence with the information from the Chinese language databases.

Conclusions: In the absence of rigorous evidence, Delphi offers a way to synthesize expert knowledge relating to diagnosis, patient management, and herbal selection in the treatment of endometriosis. The limitations of the expert group and the inability of Delphi to capture the subtle nuances of individualized clinical decision-making limit the usefulness of this approach

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1089/acm.2006.6283
ISSNs: 1075-5535 (print)
Related URLs:
Keywords: controlled-trial, databases, practice guidelines,alternative medicine, treatment, decision making, england, report, consensus, diagnosis, review, feasibility studies, complementary, statement
Subjects: R Medicine > RZ Other systems of medicine
R Medicine
Divisions : University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Medicine > Community Clinical Sciences
University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Medicine > Medical Education
ePrint ID: 61782
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
1 November 2007Published
Date Deposited: 10 Sep 2008
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 12:45

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