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BACKGROUND: Perforated peptic ulcer (PPU) remains a common condition globally with significant morbidity and mortality. Previous work has demonstrated variation in reporting of patient characteristics in PPU studies, making comparison of studies and outcomes difficult. The aim of this study was to standardize the reporting of patient characteristics, by creating a core descriptor set (CDS) of important descriptors that should be consistently reported in PPU research. METHODS: Candidate descriptors were identified through systematic review and stakeholder proposals. An international Delphi exercise involving three survey rounds was undertaken to obtain consensus on key patient characteristics for future research. Participants rated items on a scale of 1-9 with respect to their importance. Items meeting a predetermined threshold (rated 7-9 by over 70 per cent of stakeholders) were included in the final set and ratified at a consensus meeting. Feedback was provided between rounds to allow refinement of ratings. RESULTS: Some 116 clinicians were recruited from 29 countries. A total of 63 descriptors were longlisted from the literature, and 27 were proposed by stakeholders. After three survey rounds and a consensus meeting, 27 descriptors were included in the CDS. These covered demographic variables and co-morbidities, risk factors for PPU, presentation and pathway factors, need for organ support, biochemical parameters, prognostic tools, perforation details, and surgical history. CONCLUSION: This study defines the core descriptive items for PPU research, which will allow more robust synthesis of studies.

Original publication




Journal article


Br J Surg

Publication Date





603 - 609


Consensus, Delphi Technique, Humans, Peptic Ulcer Perforation, Prognosis, Research Design, Risk Factors, Surveys and Questionnaires, Treatment Outcome