What Research Questions Matter to Australian Paediatricians? National Delphi Study, 2007-2008


Aim: The newly-formed Australian Paediatric Research Network (APRN) aims to facilitate general paediatricians’ participation in research in secondary care settings. This (its first) project aimed to identify Australian paediatricians’ top research priorities and preferred research designs.

Methods: All Australian general paediatricians were invited into a national Delphi process survey. In Stage 1, they were asked “Thinking about your clinical practice, what are the most important research questions which need addressing?”. Using qualitative methods, a ‘top 20’ list of the most common, feasible research questions was generated. In Stage 2, respondents prioritised these ‘top 20’ research questions in terms of perceived importance to their practice, and rated their interest in participating in various types of research.

Results: 685 (68%) of 1006 paediatricians completed the baseline survey, with 209 paediatricians contributing 430 Stage 1 research questions. Of these, 128 (30%) had not been addressed in the literature and were researchable in the secondary care outpatient setting. The top five questions ranked in Stage 2 by 348 paediatricians were obesity management (two questions), long-term ADHD educational outcomes, autism spectrum outcomes, and prophylactic antibiotics in preventing urinary tract infections. Paediatricians were willing to participate in research designs, including longitudinal research (75%) and randomised trials (64%).

Conclusions: Australian paediatricians are interested in research, and their ideas can provide direction for APRN and potentially other networks in Australia. Many of the questions generated could not be easily answered by traditional biomedical and clinical research methods, highlighting the potential benefit of practice-based research networks.


Rudolph S, Hiscock H, Efron D, et al. What research questions matter to Australian paediatricians? National Delphi Study. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health 2009:45;704-9. JPCH link (new browser window).