Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Delphi study to determine the key qualities consultant histopathologists look for in their trainees
  1. Daniel J Brierley1,
  2. Paula M Farthing2,
  3. Sandra Zijlstra-Shaw3
  1. 1 Unit of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK
  2. 2 University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK
  3. 3 Unit of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology, University of Sheffield School of Clinical Dentistry, Sheffield, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Daniel J Brierley, Unit of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2TA, UK; d.j.brierley{at}


Aims A Delphi study to triangulate and determine the relative importance of the key qualities of trainees identified from qualitative interviews that sought to understand how consultant histopathologists determine diagnostic competences in trainees.

Methods Twelve participants were purposively chosen for the Delphi to form an expert panel of relevant stakeholders. Participants were asked to score and rank the items presented to them.

Results A total of 22 out of 27 of the key qualities of trainees (items) reached ‘consensus in’ after round 2 suggesting participants were able to agree that the majority of the items identified in the qualitative interviews were important to diagnostic competence. Five items reached ‘no consensus’. Participants did not suggest any additional items. Participants particularly valued qualities of reflection and professionalism and trainees who understood the process of reaching a diagnosis and how their pathological report could impact on patient care.

Conclusions This study has triangulated findings from our qualitative interviews and show that consultants value a wide variety of qualities when determining diagnostic competence in their trainees. The judgement is complex and is therefore best assessed longitudinally and on a number of cases, so consultants can look for consistency of both approach to diagnosis and of trainee behaviour.

  • education
  • medical education
  • diagnosis

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Handling editor Dhirendra Govender.

  • Contributors DJB: literature review, study design, data analysis, discussion and conclusions. PMF: study design, discussion, conclusions and proof-reading. SZ-S: study design, discussion, conclusions and proof-reading.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement No data are available. No further data are available.