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Building consensus on inpatient discharge pathway components in the management of blunt thoracic injuries: An e-Delphi study amongst an international professional expert panel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2551-2559
Number of pages9
Issue number9
Early online date5 Apr 2021
Accepted/In press5 Apr 2021
E-pub ahead of print5 Apr 2021
PublishedSep 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: This article presents independent research funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and Health Education England . The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the National Health Service (NHS), the NIHR or the Department of Health. Publisher Copyright: © 2021 The Authors Copyright: Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


King's Authors


INTRODUCTION: Access to a standardised and evidence informed approach to blunt thoracic injury (BTI) management remains challenging across organised trauma systems globally. It remains important to optimise recovery through pathway-based interventions. The aim of this study was to identify components of care that are important in the effective discharge process for patients with BTI and pinpoint core and optional components for a patient pathway-based intervention.

METHODS: Components of care within the hospital discharge process after BTI were identified using existing literature and expert opinion. These initial data were entered into a three-round e-Delphi consensus method where round one involved further integrating and categorising components of discharge care from the expert panel. The panel comprised of an international interdisciplinary group of healthcare professionals with experience in the management of BTI. All questionnaires were completed anonymously using an online survey and involved rating care components using Likert scales (Range: 1-6). The final consensus threshold for pathway components were defined as a group rating of greater than 70% scoring in either the moderate importance (3-4) or high importance category (5-6) and less than 15% of the panel scoring within the low importance category (1-2).

RESULTS: Of 88 recruited participants, 67 (76%) participated in round one. Statements were categorised into nine themes: (i) Discharge criteria; (ii) Physical function and Self-care; (iii) Pain management components; (iv) Respiratory function components; (v) General care components; (vi) Follow-up; (vii) Psychological care components; (viii) Patient, family and communication; (ix) 'Red Flag' signs and symptoms. Overall, 70 statements were introduced into the consensus building exercise in round two. In round three, 40 statements from across these categorises achieved consensus amongst the expert panel, forming a framework of core and optional care components within the discharge process after BTI.

CONCLUSIONS: These data will be used to build a toolkit containing guidance on developing discharge pathways for patients with BTI and for the development of audit benchmarks for analysing healthcare provision in this area. It is important that interventions developed using this framework are validated locally and evaluated for efficacy using appropriate research methodology.

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