Using the Nominal Group Technique in Group Decision-Making: A Review

Document Type : Review Article


1 Professor of Health Education and Promotion, School of Health, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran.

2 Paris Nanterre University, Paris, France.

3 Department of Midwifery and Reproductive Health, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran.

4 Department of Medical Education, Faculty of Medicine, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.



The Nominal Group Technique (NGT) is one of the most important and widely used methods for group decision-making. The NGT is a form of brainstorming in which a structured meeting is held among the group members, where they are required to find solutions to the problem identified for the discussion. The NGT includes four steps: generating ideas/brainstorming, recording ideas, discussing ideas, and voting on ideas. As with any technique, there are advantages and disadvantages. The primary advantage of the NGT over other strategies is the enhanced opportunity for all participants to contribute ideas and to minimize the domination of the process by more confident or outspoken individuals. A major disadvantage of NGT is that it lacks flexibility by dealing with only one problem at a time. Also, there must be a certain conformity among the members involved in NGT.
The NGT process is particularly useful when many stakeholders have diverse opinions or when the topic is sensitive, and people are reluctant to share their views publicly. However, it is important to note that the NGT is not appropriate for all situations. The ideal size of an NGT group is four to seven participants (participant range: 2 to 20 people per group). Compared to interacting groups, the NGT groups provide more unique ideas, more balanced participation between group members, increased feelings of accomplishment, and greater satisfaction with idea quality and group efficiency. Understanding the different stages of NGT and its benefits and disadvantages helps in using it efficiently in group decision-making processes.