Developing clinical practice guidelines for Chinese herbal treatment of polycystic ovary syndrome: A mixed-methods modified Delphi study
Lily Lai, Andrew Flower, Michael Moore and George Lewith
Objectives: Preliminary evidence suggests Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) could be a viable treatment option for polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Prior to conducting a clinical trial it is important to consider the characteristics of good clinical practice. This study aims to use professional consensus to establish good clinical practice guidelines for the CHM treatment of PCOS. Design and setting: CHM practitioners participated in a mixed-methods modified Delphi study involving three rounds of structured group communication. Round 1 involved qualitative interviews with practitioners to generate statements regarding good clinical practice. In round 2, these statements were distributed online to the same practitioners to rate their agreement using a 7-point Likert scale, where group consensus was defined as a median rating of ≥5. Statements reaching consensus were accepted for consideration onto the guideline whilst those not reaching consensus were re-distributed for consideration in round 3. Statements presented in the guidelines were graded from A (strong consensus) to D (no consensus) determined by median score and interquartile range. Results: 11 CHM practitioners in the UK were recruited. After three Delphi rounds, 91 statement items in total had been considered, of which 89 (97.8%) reached consensus and 2 (2.2%) did not. The concluding set of guidelines consists of 85 items representing key features of CHM prescribing for PCOS. Conclusions: These guidelines can be viewed as an initial framework that captures fundamental principles of good clinical practice for CHM.