The Delphi Consensus Method

The #chatsafe guidelines were developed using the Delphi consensus methodology, that draws on expert opinions to identify best practice when evidence is lacking, and has been used in the development of guidelines for other mental health topics[3].

Our Delphi study consisted of two parts. The first was a systematic search of peer-reviewed and grey literature (e.g. websites and reports), in order to identify specific actions that young people could take when communicating online about suicide. These action statements were then entered into a questionnaire and their importance for inclusion in the guidelines was rated by two expert panels. The first panel included young people identified through Orygen, The National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health’s youth networks. The second panel consisted of suicide prevention experts, and media and communications professionals.

The role of the panel members was to rate each item according to how important they considered it to be for inclusion in the guidelines, across two rounds of questionnaires. Items that were endorsed as ‘essential’ or ‘important’, by at least 80% of both panels, were included in the final guidelines.

3. Robinson J, Hill NTM, Thorn P, Battersby R, Teh Z, Reavley NJ, et al. (2018) The #chatsafe project. Developing guidelines to help young people communicate safely about suicide on social media: A Delphi study. PLoS ONE 13(11): e0206584.

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