Risk stratification is needed for patients referred to hospital eye services by Diabetic Eye Screening Programme UK. This requires a set of candidate predictors. The literature contains a large number of predictors. The objective of this research was to arrive at a small set of clinically important predictors for the outcome of the progression of diabetic retinopathy (DR). They need to be evidence based and readily available during the clinical consultation.
Initial list of predictors was obtained from a systematic review of prediction models. We sought the clinical expert opinion using a formal qualitative study design. A series of nominal group technique meetings to shorten the list and to rank the predictors for importance by voting were held with National Health Service hospital-based clinicians involved in caring for patients with DR in the UK. We then evaluated the evidence base for the selected predictors by critically appraising the evidence.
The source list was presented at nominal group meetings (n=4), attended by 44 clinicians. Twenty-five predictors from the original list were ranked as important predictors and eight new predictors were proposed. Two additional predictors were retained after evidence check. Of these 35, 21 had robust supporting evidence in the literature condensed into a set of 19 predictors by categorising DR.
We identified a set of 19 clinically meaningful predictors of DR progression that can help stratify higher-risk patients referred to hospital eye services and should be considered in the development of an individual risk stratification model.
A qualitative study and evidence review.
Secondary eye care centres in North East, Midlands and South of England.

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