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Using the Nominal Group Technique: how to analyse across multiple groups

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The nominal group technique (NGT) is a method to elicit healthcare priorities. Yet, there is variability on how to conduct the NGT, and limited guidance on how to analyse a diverse sample of multiple groups. This paper addresses some of this ambiguity, and explores whether different approaches to analysis provide the same outcome/s. Conceptual papers and empirical studies were identified via PubMed and informed an adapted version of the NGT. Twenty-six nominal groups were conducted, which provided in-depth knowledge on how to best conduct this method. Pilot group data were used to compare different analysis methods and to explore how this impacted on reported outcomes. Data analyses for large data-sets are complex; thematic analysis is needed to be able to conduct across group comparisons of participant priorities. Consideration should be given not just to the strength, i.e. sum of votes, or relative importance of the priority, but to the voting frequency, i.e. the popularity of the idea amongst participants; our case study demonstrated that this can affect priority rankings for those ideas with the same score. As a case study, this paper provides practical information on analysis for complex data sets. Researchers need to consider more than one analysis process to ensure that the results truly reflect participant priorities. A priority that has a high score may not necessarily reflect its popularity within the group; the voting frequency may also need to be considered.

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The authors would like to thank Peter Walsh and Shane Scahill for their feedback on the manuscript, and to all pilot group participants for their time. This project is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health as part of the Fifth Community Pharmacy Agreement Research and Development Program managed by The Pharmacy Guild of Australia. The financial assistance provided must not be taken as endorsement of the contents of this study.

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Ethics approval was obtained from Griffith University Human Research Ethics Committee (PHM/12/11/HREC). Informed consent was obtained from all participants who were involved in the nominal groups.

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Correspondence to Sara S. McMillan.

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McMillan, S.S., Kelly, F., Sav, A. et al. Using the Nominal Group Technique: how to analyse across multiple groups. Health Serv Outcomes Res Method 14, 92–108 (2014).

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