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Original article

Vol. 153 No. 11 (2023)

A Swiss digital Delphi study on patient-reported outcomes

  • Matthew J. Kerry
  • Thomas Volken
  • Nikola Biller-Andorno
  • Andrea Glässel
  • Markus Melloh
Cite this as:
Swiss Med Wkly. 2023;153:40125


AIMS OF THE STUDY: Health-related quality of life (HRQoL) indicators are patient-reported outcomes (PROs). PROs are defined as any report of the status of a patient’s health condition or health behaviour that comes directly from the patient, without interpretation of the patient’s response by a clinician or anyone else. Despite Swiss national bodies (FOPH, FMH) recognising the potential of PRO measures (PROMs) for improving the health system, no consensus has yet emerged regarding a generic PROM framework or specific domains for practical uptake. The aim of the present digital Delphi study was to generate a consensual Swiss expert opinion on a generic PROM framework, measurement domains and items from a validated instrument (PROMIS [Patient-Reported Outcome Measurement Information System]) as well as on the role and implementation of PROs in the Swiss healthcare system via PRO consensus statements.

METHODS: A 4-round digital Delphi study was conducted among Swiss PRO stakeholders. A total of n = 21 Swiss PROM stakeholders completed round 1 surveys on the PROM framework. During the stakeholder meeting, n = 11 stakeholders completed round 2 and round 3 surveys pertaining to measurement domains and items, respectively. In-meeting key questions and discussion items were extracted, consolidated into statements and subjected to consensus voting in a round 4, post-meeting survey. Consensus was defined as ≥70% agreement.

RESULTS: Pre-meeting, agreement was reached for the tripartite framework of physical, mental and social health (95–100%). During the meeting, agreement was reached on all seven measurement domains of a generic PROM (PROMIS-29), ranging from 80% (Anxiety, Sleep Disturbance) to 100% (Pain Interference, Depression, Ability to Participate in Social Roles). Consensus was also reached for all PROMIS-29 items, with average domain consensus ranging from 83% (Sleep Disturbance, Ability to Participate in Social Roles) to 100% (Depression). Finally, four post-meeting consensus statements regarding PROs in Switzerland reached agreement.

CONCLUSIONS: A Delphi method can help identify areas of need regarding PROMs in Switzerland. The current study identified a generic PROM as a missing quality indicator for the Swiss national health system’s value. A pre-meeting informational briefing, expert presentations and moderation supported three voting rounds to help identify PROMIS-29 as a PROM framework (round 1), measurement domains (round 2) and items (round 3) as a basis for further validation research. The empirical agreement among diverse stakeholders supports broad consensus towards preliminary feasibility of integrating generic PROMs into the Swiss health system based on content relevance.


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