Abdominal wall hernia repair is one of the most commonly performed surgical procedures worldwide, yet despite this, there remains a lack of high-quality evidence to support best management. The aim of the study was to use a modified Delphi process to determine future research priorities in this field.
Stakeholders were invited by email, using British Hernia Society membership details or Twitter, to submit individual research questions via an online survey. In addition, questions obtained from a patient focus group (PFG) were collated to form Phase I. Two rounds of prioritization by stakeholders (phases II and III) were then completed to determine a final list of research questions. All questions were analyzed on an anonymized basis.
A total of 266 questions, 19 from the PFG, were submitted by 113 stakeholders in Phase I. Of these, 64 questions were taken forward for prioritization in Phase II, which was completed by 107 stakeholders. Following Phase II analysis, 97 stakeholders prioritized 36 questions in Phase III. This resulted in a final list of 14 research questions, 3 of which were from the PFG. Stakeholders included patients and healthcare professionals (consultant surgeons, trainee surgeons and other multidisciplinary members) from over 27 countries during the 3 phases.
The study has identified 14 key research priorities pertaining to abdominal wall hernia surgery. Uniquely, these priorities have been determined from participation by both healthcare professionals and patients. These priorities should now be addressed by well-designed, high-quality international collaborative research.