Choosing Important Health Outcomes for Comparative Effectiveness Research: An Updated Review and User Survey

Sarah L Gorst, Elizabeth Gargon, Mike Clarke, Jane M Blazeby, Douglas G Altman, Paula R Williamson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

89 Citations (Scopus)
149 Downloads (Pure)


BACKGROUND: A COS represents an agreed minimum set of outcomes that should be measured and reported in all trials of a specific condition. The COMET (Core Outcome Measures in Effectiveness Trials) initiative aims to collate and stimulate the development and application of COS, by including data on relevant studies within a publically available internet-based resource. In recent years, there has been an interest in increasing the development of COS. Therefore, this study aimed to provide an update of a previous review, and examine the quality of development of COS. A further aim was to understand the reasons why individuals are searching the COMET database.

METHODS: A multi-faceted search strategy was followed, in order to identify studies that sought to determine which outcomes/domains to measure in clinical trials of a specific condition. Additionally, a pop up survey was added to the COMET website, to ascertain why people were searching the COMET database.

RESULTS: Thirty-two reports relating to 29 studies were eligible for inclusion in the review. There has been an improvement in the description of the scope of a COS and an increase in the proportion of studies using literature/systematic reviews and the Delphi technique. Clinical experts continue to be the most common group involved in developing COS, however patient and public involvement has increased. The pop-up survey revealed the most common reasons for visiting the COMET website to be thinking about developing a COS and planning a clinical trial.

CONCLUSIONS: This update demonstrates that recent studies appear to have adopted a more structured approach towards COS development and public representation has increased. However, there remains a need for developers to adequately describe details about the scope of COS, and for greater public engagement. The COMET database appears to be a useful resource for both COS developers and users of COS.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0146444
Number of pages12
JournalPloS one
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jan 2016


  • Awareness
  • Choice Behavior
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Comparative Effectiveness Research
  • Databases, Factual
  • Humans
  • Knowledge
  • Outcome Assessment (Health Care)
  • Publishing
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review


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