Finding, critically appraising, and using a core outcome set (COS) to inform your systematic review

Session Type
Workshop - training
Core outcomes
Target audience
Review editors, Review authors, researchers, patients, consumers, clinicians, students, policy makers, trialists, statisticians, and members of HTA agencies
Level of difficulty

Background: A core outcome set (COS) is an agreed standardised set of outcomes that should be measured and reported, as a minimum, in all clinical trials in a specific health condition. This would allow research to be compared and combined, ensuring all studies contribute usable information for the core outcomes. The involvement of relevant stakeholders, especially patients and health professionals, in COS development helps ensure the outcomes important to those groups are included. Many organisations, including Cochrane, now actively endorse COS use in systematic reviews to help ensure outcomes important to patients and other key stakeholders are considered. The Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions acknowledges the relevance of COS to defining review questions and planning the review, helping ensure the inclusion of patient-centred outcomes. By maintaining the free, searchable Core Outcome Measures for Effectiveness Trials (COMET) database, the COMET Initiative can help systematic reviewers to identify and use COS. Among a sample of Cochrane reviews from 2019, 7% referred to a COS when choosing outcomes, yet 35% of the remaining reviews could have considered a relevant existing COS. Most Cochrane Review Group editors (86%) thought that COS should definitely or possibly be used to inform the selection of review outcomes.
Objectives: i. Describe the rationale for using COS in systematic reviews and demonstrate how the COMET database helps facilitate this. ii. Identify issues to consider when deciding whether a COS is applicable to a specific systematic review and whether a COS has been developed using reasonable methods.
Description: This interactive workshop will be co-facilitated by Paula Williamson (Chair, COMET Management Group), Ian Saldanha (Department of Epidemiology, John Hopkins), Maureen Smith (Chair, Cochrane Consumer Executive), and Heather Barrington (COMET Patient and Public Involvement Coordinator). Workshop participants will discuss how they choose outcomes for their review. Searching the COMET database will be demonstrated. Participants will explore COS examples, assess their relevance to particular systematic review topics, and discuss how they might assess COS relevance to their own work. The COS minimum standards will be presented, and participants invited to assess the example COS against these standards.

Gorst S1
1University of Liverpool, UK