Academic Toolkit - ACT!

Core Outcome Sets

Advice on what core outcome sets are and how they can be used

If research outcomes are selected, collected and reported poorly it can prevent research findings from translating into improved care for patients. Problems can include failing to measure outcomes that matter to patients and parents, the inappropriate use of subjective, surrogate or composite outcomes, and reporting outcomes using heterogeneous measures and definitions preventing subsequent meta-analysis.

One solution to these problems is the creation of "Core Outcome Sets": a group of outcomes identified by key stakeholders that should be reported in a standardised manner by all research within a specific field. The use of core outcome sets is promoted by academic journals, research funders and Cochrane review group editors.

Core outcome sets are registered on the COMET (Core Outcome Measures in Effectiveness Trials) initiative website. Identifying a core outcome set in a field may help to ensure your research project focuses on the outcomes that matter most to patients and parents, and if no core outcome set exists this could form part of a PhD project!

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