The Core Outcome Measures in Effectiveness Trials (COMET) database is a publically available, searchable repository of published and ongoing core outcome set (COS) studies. An annual systematic review update is carried out to maintain the currency of database content.
The methods used in the fourth update of the systematic review followed the same approach used in the original review and previous updates. Studies were eligible for inclusion if they reported the development of a COS, regardless of any restrictions by age, health condition or setting. Searches were carried out in March 2018 to identify studies that had been published or indexed between January 2017 and the end of December 2017.
Forty-eight new studies, describing the development of 56 COS, were included. There has been an increase in the number of studies clearly specifying the scope of the COS in terms of the population (n = 43, 90%) and intervention (n = 48, 100%) characteristics. Public participation has continued to rise with over half (n = 27, 56%) of studies in the current review including input from members of the public. The rate of inclusion of all stakeholder groups has increased, in particular participation from non-clinical research experts has risen from 32% (mean average in previous reviews) to 62% (n = 29). Input from participants located in Australasia (n = 17; 41%), Asia (n = 18; 44%), South America (n = 13; 32%) and Africa (n = 7; 17%) have all increased since the previous reviews.
This update included a pronounced increase in the number of new COS identified compared to the previous three updates. There was an improvement in the reporting of the scope, stakeholder participants and methods used. Furthermore, there has been an increase in participation from Australasia, Asia, South America and Africa. These advancements are reflective of the efforts made in recent years to raise awareness about the need for COS development and uptake, as well as developments in COS methodology.