The Delphi Technique: A Possible Tool for Predicting Future Events in Nursing Education


  • Lilliam Bramwell
  • Elaine Hykawy


THE twenty-seven year interval since World War II has witnessed far-reaching change in social, economic, and political institutions. The literature indicates no deceleration of this process (Doyle and Goodwill, 1971; Enzer, 1971). In fact, Toffler suggests that we are now experiencing Alvin Toffler. Future Shock""... the dizzying disorientation brought about by the premature arrival of the future ..." (Toffler, 1971, p. 11). The transition from a fatalistic acceptance of the inevitability of future events to a more positive consideration of "futures" planning is quite recent. Olaf Helmer. Long Range Forecasting - Role and Methods""Once we think of futures as events which are at least partly subject to choice and control, we can work toward improving long-range planning" (Helmer, 1970, p. 1). Several techniques have been developed to assist in predicting future events. Among these is the Delphi Technique (Helmer, 1966) which is a procedure for organizing and sharing expert forecasts about the future. It has been used in a variety of educational settings (Clarke and Coutts, 1970; Anderson, 1970; Cyphert and Gant, 1970; Doyle and Goodwill, 1971; Jacobson, 1970). No studies using this technique were found in nursing literature, although, individuals have made predictions about future events in nursing education (Burnside and Lenburg, 1970; Mussallem, 1970) and others have recommended that such studies be done (Applund, 1966; Seyffer, 1965).