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Assessing and investigating children with suspected bone and abdominal tumours: an e-Delphi consensus process

Shanmugavadivel, Dhurgshaarna; Liu, Jo Fen; Gamble, Ashley; Polanco, Angela; Vedhara, Kavita; Walker, David; Ojha, Shalini

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Research Assistant

Ashley Gamble

Angela Polanco

Professor in Applied Psychology

David Walker

Professor of Neonatal Medicine


Background The incidence of childhood cancer has risen by 15% since the 1990s. Early diagnosis is key to optimising outcomes, however diagnostic delays are widely reported. Presenting symptoms are often non-specific causing a diagnostic dilemma for clinicians. This Delphi consensus process was conducted to develop a new clinical guideline for children and young people presenting with signs/symptoms suggestive of a bone or abdominal tumour. Methods Invitation emails were sent to primary and secondary healthcare professionals to join the Delphi panel. 65 statements were derived from evidence review by a multidisciplinary team. Participants were asked to rank their level of agreement with each statement on a 9-point Likert scale (1=strongly disagree, 9=strongly agree), with responses ≥7 taken to indicate agreement. Statements not reaching consensus were rewritten and reissued in a subsequent round. Results All statements achieved consensus after two rounds. 96/133 (72%) participants responded to round 1 (R1) and 69/96 (72%) completed round 2 (R2). 62/65 (94%) statements achieved consensus in R1 with 29/65 (47%) gaining more than 90% consensus. Three statements did not reach consensus scoring between 61% and 69%. All reached numerical consensus at the end of R2. Strong consensus was reached on best practice of conducting the consultation, acknowledging parental instinct and obtaining telephone advice from a paediatrician to decide the timing and place of review, rather than adult cancer urgent referral pathways. Dissensus in statements was due to unachievable targets within primary care and valid concerns over a potential overinvestigation of abdominal pain. Conclusions This consensus process has consolidated statements that will be included in a new clinical guideline for suspected bone and abdominal tumours for use in both primary and secondary care. This evidence base will be translated into awareness tools for the public as part of the Child Cancer Smart national awareness campaign.


Shanmugavadivel, D., Liu, J. F., Gamble, A., Polanco, A., Vedhara, K., Walker, D., & Ojha, S. (2023). Assessing and investigating children with suspected bone and abdominal tumours: an e-Delphi consensus process. BMJ Paediatrics Open, 7, Article e001771.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 3, 2023
Online Publication Date Mar 3, 2023
Publication Date Mar 3, 2023
Deposit Date Mar 8, 2023
Publicly Available Date Mar 8, 2023
Journal BMJ Paediatrics Open
Electronic ISSN 2399-9772
Publisher BMJ
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 7
Article Number e001771
Keywords Pediatrics, Perinatology and Child Health
Public URL
Publisher URL


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