The following is the summary of “Underrepresentation of Respiratory Therapists as Experts in Delphi Studies on Respiratory Practices and Research Priorities” published in the December 2022 issue of Respiratory Care by Quach, et al.

Delphi surveys are a popular consensus-building tool for gathering information from a panel of experts for the purposes of informing practices, establish recommendations, and identifying research objectives. One technique to guarantee that RT practices are consistent with RT practices and to better impact respiratory care practice is to collect the expertise and experiences of RTs as part of consensus-building methodologies. The purpose of this narrative review was to document the participation of respiratory therapists (RTs) in expert panels for Delphi studies examining the state of the field and future directions for research. 

The overarching inquiry that shaped this literature evaluation was the following: to what extent are RTs included as expert participants in published Delphi investigations on research subjects related to respiratory therapy? Using a systematic search strategy, researchers found 23 papers reporting on Delphi studies of respiratory care practices and 15 papers reporting on research priorities in the field of respiratory medicine. The following areas of respiratory care were the focus of Delphi studies reporting consensus: mechanical ventilation; high-flow nasal cannula therapy; COVID-19 respiratory management; home oxygen therapy; cardiopulmonary monitoring; and disease-specific guidelines. In addition, priority research topics for empirical investigation and knowledge gaps in theory and practice were identified through Delphi investigations that focused on respiratory research. 

This review suggests that RTs were underrepresented (5–33%) when included as expert participants and were underutilized overall. Incorporating RTs’ viewpoints into future education, care practices, and research goals would help evidence better connect with knowledge gaps deemed vital for the respiratory therapy profession, given RTs’ wide and relevant expertise in respiratory care.