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Introduction to Core Outcome Sets and the COMET initiative

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Hello I’m Laura.  As a patient with asthma, I’m  interested in health research.   I think research is the best way to help improve  treatments, and develop new and better ones. That’s why, I’m keen to help researchers design  studies, that make a difference to people’s lives.  Researchers develop, and test  treatments, to make sure they work.
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And are safe.
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To do this, they look at the effects treatments  have on patients, by measuring outcomes.
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For example, last year I took  part in Dr Smith’s study,   that tested a new asthma treatment. Dr  Smith measured an outcome of how often   I used my reliever inhaler, before  and after taking the new treatment,   but there is a problem, because the same outcomes  aren’t always measured for the same health   condition, and different researchers throughout  the world often measure different outcomes.  So for example, Dr Lopez in Spain might be looking  at the number of times patients have to go into   hospital with their asthma as an outcome, while  Dr Betty in India may decide to measure night-time   wheeze. When these asthma treatment studies  are finished they can’t be compared or combined   because they’ve used different outcomes.
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It’s  then difficult to know which treatment is best.   It’s a bit like trying to  compare apples with bananas.   This isn’t just a challenge for asthma,  but for many different health conditions,   affecting patients throughout the world. So how can we solve this problem?  It’s simple really, if all studies  in a particular health condition   measure the same set of outcomes, they  can be easily compared and combined.  Once agreed, this set of outcomes  is called a Core Outcome Set 
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But deciding on which outcomes are core requires  discussions and input from the right people.   The core outcomes need to be relevant to  patients like me, health professionals   and researchers so that we can design  studies that are more relevant to patients.
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People working on core outcome sets  need to make sure that patients,   and health professionals both have their say. To do, this they often use consensus methods.   Consensus methods include surveys, meetings,  and discussions where everybody’s views can   be heard and taken into account. When a core outcome set has been   agreed the hope is that researchers will use  it in all studies for that health condition.  We’ll be able to learn more about the condition  because findings can be compared and combined.   In the long run, this means treatments that  work will be available to patients more quickly.
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If you want to find out more  information about core outcome sets  visit www.comet-initiative.org

Watch the COMET initiative video above

Hopefully, from watching the video, you will see why it is important to create and use Core Outcome Sets (COS).

From a researcher perspective, there is an opportunity to create your own COS, as this would then be used by researchers in your field, locating your name at the centre of the subject area.

If you are interested in how COS are created, please complete the next step.

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Developing and Testing Complex Healthcare Interventions

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