ACCORD: new guideline to support consistent and complete reporting of consensus methods in biomedical research

24 January 2024

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Oxford PharmaGenesis has contributed to the development of the new ACCORD reporting guideline to help the medical and scientific communities to improve the reporting of research involving consensus methodologies. The guideline was published today in the non-profit open access journal PLOS Medicine. 

In biomedical research, consensus is often sought among individuals with different views and experiences when developing clinical recommendations, setting priorities and making policy decisions. Consensus research is particularly important when evidence is newly emerging, inconsistent, limited or absent. 

ACCORD (ACcurate COnsensus Reporting Document) offers a new best practice framework for reporting research involving consensus methods, helping to address the historical problems of poor and incomplete reporting. It will help researchers to report the key information needed to allow readers to understand the methods used, to interpret the results critically and to apply them appropriately. 

Oxford PharmaGenesis has been closely involved in the guideline’s development, contributing our HealthScience consultancy’s strong heritage in Delphi consensus methodologies among other expertise. 

A pioneering reporting guideline 

ACCORD was itself developed through a modified Delphi method that sought consensus on key reporting items among a wide range of expert stakeholders. It is the first reporting guideline to be applicable across all consensus methodologies. It is also the first time that publication professionals have initiated, led and published a reporting guideline that will be used widely within biomedicine and, potentially, beyond. 

The guideline was created by an international steering committee, acting under the auspices of the International Society for Medical Publication Professionals (ISMPP). The committee comprises clinicians, patient representatives, journal editors, consensus and guideline experts, and publication professionals, including Oxford PharmaGenesis CEO Chris Winchester. Chris said: “Oxford PharmaGenesis is dedicated to advancing patient care. We know from experience how consensus initiatives can help support early diagnosis and effective treatment of patients with rare diseases, cancer and many other life-changing conditions. Transparent reporting is essential for maintaining high standards, so we’re proud to play our part in advancing best practices. We’re pleased to have been asked to contribute our expertise in running Delphi processes to inform development of the ACCORD reporting guideline.”

Steering Committee member Sir Pali Hungin (Newcastle University) said: “As busy healthcare professionals, we often have to treat patients in situations where the available evidence is mixed, limited or absent. In such circumstances, expert consensus has valuable role to play. We believe that, by improving the reporting of consensus initiatives, ACCORD will ultimately improve patient care.”

Read the published ACCORD guideline here:

Gattrell WT, Logullo P, van Zuuren EJ et al. ACCORD (ACcurate COnsensus Reporting Document): a reporting guideline for consensus methods in biomedicine developed via a modified Delphi. PLoS Med 2024;21:e1004326.  

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