Democracy-based consensus in medicine

Massimiliano Greco, Alberto Zangrillo, Marta Mucchetti, Leda Nobile, Paolo Landoni, Rinaldo Bellomo, Giovanni Landoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background High-quality evidence and derived guidelines, as typically published in major academic journals, are a major process that shapes physician decision-making worldwide. However, for many aspects of medical practice, there is a lack of High-quality evidence or an overload of somewhat contradictory low-quality information, which makes decision-making a difficult, uncertain, and unpredictable process. When the issues in question are important and evidence limited or controversial, the medical community seeks to establish common ground for "best practice" through consensus conferences and consensus statements or guidelines. Such consensus statements are seen as a useful tool to establish expert agreement, define the boundaries of acceptable practice, provide priorities for the research agenda, and obtain opinions from different countries and healthcare systems. This standard approach, however, can be criticized for being elitist, noninclusive, and poorly representative of the community of clinicians who will have to make decisions about the implementation of such recommendations. Objective Accordingly, the authors propose a new model based on a combination of a local core meeting (detailed review and expert input) followed by a worldwide web-based network assessment (democracy-based consensus). The authors already have applied this approach to develop consensus on all nonsurgical interventions that increase or reduce perioperative mortality in critically ill patients and in those with acute kidney injury. Methods The methodology was based on 5 sequential local and web-based steps. Results Both a panel of experts and a large number of professionals from all over the world were involved, giving birth to a new type of "democracy-based consensus." Conclusions This new type of "democracy-based consensus" has the potential to increase grass-root clinician involvement, expand the reach to less-developed countries, provide a more global perspective on proposed interventions, and perhaps more importantly, increase awareness, ownership, and the statistical likelihood of subsequent implementation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)506-509
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Cardiothoracic and Vascular Anesthesia
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2015


  • consensus conference
  • democracy-based medicine
  • knowledge sharing
  • web-based network

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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