Consensus among experts and research synthesis: A comparison of methods

Paul M. Wortman, Joshua M. Smyth, John C. Langenbrunner, William H. Yeaton

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


A comparison of two assessment methods, consensus among experts and research synthesis of the scientific literature, was performed using a surgical procedure, carotid endarterectomy (CE), as an example. These two methods have been widely advocated as being scientifically valid. While the comparison revealed a number of areas of general agreement, important differences between the two methods emerged. For example, 30-day mortality for asymptomatic patients was considered an effective outcome (ranked first) by the synthesis, but only 'equivocal' (ranked third) of six major indicators reported by the consensus method. The synthesis results are also consistent with other literature reviews as well as with recent large-scale randomized trial results. A number of factors that could account for differences between the two methods were examined. Overall, use of consensus panels may be appropriate early in the development of an intervention where the evidence is sparse, while quantitative research synthesis is preferable when a number of high-quality studies have been performed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)109-122
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Technology Assessment in Health Care
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1998

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health Policy


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