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Identifying neonatal transport research priorities: a modified Delphi consensus
  1. Aarti Mistry1,
  2. Andrew Leslie1,2,
  3. Shalini Ojha1,
  4. Don Sharkey1,2
  5. The UK Neonatal Transport Research Collaborative (UK-NTRC)
  1. 1 Centre for Perinatal Research (CePR), School of Medicine, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK
  2. 2 UK-Neonatal Transport Research Collaborative (UK-NTRC), UK-Neonatal Transport Group, Nottingham, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor Don Sharkey, Centre for Perinatal Research (CePR), School of Medicine, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, NG7 2RD, UK; don.sharkey{at}


Objectives With increasing advances in neonatal transport, a focused research strategy is required to increase the evidence base towards providing optimal care. We aimed to identify the most important neonatal transport research questions as prioritised by parents and healthcare professionals (HCPs).

Design Key stakeholders participated in a modified three-stage Delphi consensus process. Research questions were identified and submitted through two survey stages before the final priority setting workshop.

Participants Parents of babies who received neonatal care, neonatal HCPs and stakeholders.

Outcome Identify the top 10 research priorities for neonatal transport.

Results Overall, 269 survey responses from HCPs/stakeholders (n=161) and parents (n=108) were analysed from two survey rounds. Consensus was reached on 22 of 43 research priorities for the final priority setting workshop. The agreed top research priorities covered the domains of: (1) Pain assessment and management, (2) Long-term neurological outcomes, (3) Impact of transfer on birth-related brain injury, (4) Investigating risk of transport, (5) Safety restraints for infants, (6) Optimal temperature management, (7) Respiratory management and outcomes, (8) Benchmarking of important of transport measures, (9) Understanding transport environmental exposures, (10) Mental health and burden of transfer on families.

Conclusion We have identified the top research questions for neonatal transport through an extensive process actively engaging parents, HCPs and key stakeholders. Targeted funding and research resources, directed towards addressing these prioritised research areas, will inform evidence-based practices and international frameworks specific to neonatal transport, helping minimise research waste and ultimately improve outcomes for these high-risk infants and their families.

  • Neonatology
  • Qualitative research
  • Intensive Care Units, Neonatal
  • Health services research

Data availability statement

All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information.

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Data availability statement

All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information.

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  • X @AartiMistry5, @shaliniojha7, @DrDonSharkey

  • Collaborators On behalf of the UK-Neonatal Transport Research Collaborative (UK-NTRC), an affiliated group of the UK-Neonatal Transport Group (UK-NTG): Sarah Davidson, Allan Jackson, Samantha O'Hare, Santosh Pattnayak, Catherine Rutherford, Nandiran Ratnaval, Rob Tinnion, Alison Walker.

    Collaborators’ affiliations are as follows: SONeT, University Hospitals Southampton NHS

    Foundation Trust; Scottish Specialist Transport and Retrieval Service, Princess Royal Maternity, Glasgow; Paediatric and Neonatal Decision support and Retrieval service (PaNDR), Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust; Kent Surrey and Sussex Neonatal Transport Service, Medway NHS Foundation Trust, Kent; KIDS-Neonatal Transfer Service; London Neonatal Transport Service, Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel, London; Northern Neonatal Transport Service; Northern Ireland Specialist Transport and Retrieval.

  • Contributors AM, DS, SO conceptualised and formulated the study protocol. AM led the implementation and conducted each stage of study and the data analysis. The first draft of manuscript was written by AM, and reviewed and edited by AL, SO and DS. All authors approved the final version for publication. DS is the guarantor of the study.

  • Funding AM was part of the project funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) i4i programme (II-LA-0715-20003) and DS was a co-investigator on the same award. DS is partly funded by the NIHR Children and Young People MedTech Cooperative. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.

  • Competing interests DS is the research lead for the UK-NTG and the UK-NTRC.

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

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.