Consensus definition and diagnostic criteria for neonatal encephalopathy-study protocol for a real-time modified delphi study

Aoife Branagan, Tim Hurley, Fiona Quirke, Declan Devane, Petek E Taneri, Nadia Badawi, Bharati Sinha, Cynthia Bearer, Frank H Bloomfield, Sonia L Bonifacio, Geraldine Boylan, Suzann K Campbell, Lina Chalak, Mary D'Alton, Linda S deVries, Mohamed El Dib, Donna M Ferriero, Chris Gale, Pierre Gressens, Alistair J GunnSarah Kay, Beccy Maeso, Sarah B Mulkey, Deirdre M Murray, Karin B Nelson, Tetyana H Nesterenko, Betsy Pilon, Nicola J Robertson, Karen Walker, Courtney J Wusthoff, Eleanor J Molloy*, Steering Group for DEFiNE (Definition of Neonatal Encephalopathy)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

BACKGROUND: 'Neonatal encephalopathy' (NE) describes a group of conditions in term infants presenting in the earliest days after birth with disturbed neurological function of cerebral origin. NE is aetiologically heterogenous; one cause is peripartum hypoxic ischaemia. Lack of uniformity in the terminology used to describe NE and its diagnostic criteria creates difficulty in the design and interpretation of research and complicates communication with families. The DEFINE study aims to use a modified Delphi approach to form a consensus definition for NE, and diagnostic criteria.

METHODS: Directed by an international steering group, we will conduct a systematic review of the literature to assess the terminology used in trials of NE, and with their guidance perform an online Real-time Delphi survey to develop a consensus diagnosis and criteria for NE. A consensus meeting will be held to agree on the final terminology and criteria, and the outcome disseminated widely.

DISCUSSION: A clear and consistent consensus-based definition of NE and criteria for its diagnosis, achieved by use of a modified Delphi technique, will enable more comparability of research results and improved communication among professionals and with families.

IMPACT: The terms Neonatal Encephalopathy and Hypoxic Ischaemic Encephalopathy tend to be used interchangeably in the literature to describe a term newborn with signs of encephalopathy at birth. This creates difficulty in communication with families and carers, and between medical professionals and researchers, as well as creating difficulty with performance of research. The DEFINE project will use a Real-time Delphi approach to create a consensus definition for the term 'Neonatal Encephalopathy'. A definition formed by this consensus approach will be accepted and utilised by the neonatal community to improve research, outcomes, and parental experience.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPediatric Research
Early online date20 Jun 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Jun 2024


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