Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 99–108 | Cite as

Expert agreed standards for the selection and development of cancer support group leaders: an online reactive Delphi study

  • Amanda PomeryEmail author
  • Penelope Schofield
  • Miranda Xhilaga
  • Karla Gough
Original Article



The aim of this study was to develop pragmatic, consensus-based minimum standards for the role of a cancer support group leader. Secondly, to produce a structured interview designed to assess the knowledge, skills and attributes of the individuals who seek to undertake the role.


An expert panel of 73 academics, health professionals, cancer agency workers and cancer support group leaders were invited to participate in a reactive online Delphi study involving three online questionnaire rounds. Participants determined and ranked requisite knowledge, skills and attributes (KSA) for cancer support group leaders, differentiated ideal from required KSA to establish minimum standards, and agreed on a method of rating KSA to determine suitability and readiness.


Forty-five experts (62%) participated in round 1, 36 (49%) in round 2 and 23 (31%) in round 3. In round 1, experts confirmed 59 KSA identified via a systemic review and identified a further 55 KSA. In round 2, using agreement ≥75%, 52 KSA emerged as minimum standards for support group leaders. In round 3, consensus was reached on almost every aspect of the content and structure of a structured interview. Panel member comments guided refinement of wording, re-ordering of questions and improvement of probing questions.


Alongside a novel structured interview, the first consensus-based minimum standards have been developed for cancer support group leaders, incorporating expert consensus and pragmatic considerations. Pilot and field testing will be used to appraise aspects of clinical utility and establish a rational scoring model for the structured interview.


Online Delphi method Cancer survivors Support groups Peer leadership Evidence-based standards 



Amanda Pomery is sponsored by Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia, supported by the Department of Cancer Experiences Research Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and supported through an Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest. The authors had full control over all primary data and will allow the journal to review the data if requested.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sir Peter MacCallum Department of Oncology, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health SciencesThe University of MelbourneParkvilleAustralia
  2. 2.Prostate Cancer Foundation of AustraliaMelbourneAustralia
  3. 3.Department of Psychology, School of Health Sciences, Faculty of Health, Arts and DesignSwinburne University of TechnologyHawthornAustralia
  4. 4.Department of Cancer Experiences ResearchPeter MacCallum Cancer CentreMelbourneAustralia
  5. 5.Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health SciencesThe University of MelbourneParkvilleAustralia
  6. 6.Faculty of Health, School of Health and Social DevelopmentDeakin UniversityBurwoodAustralia
  7. 7.Department of Nursing, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health SciencesThe University of MelbourneParkvilleAustralia

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