By Janneke van’t Hooft
Edited by Ewelina Rogozińska
Some questions require such large sample sizes that they cannot be answered unless primary data from multiple studies are combined. One example of such a situation is the use of preventive treatment of preterm birth like progesterone, cerclage or pessary.
From this point of view, I was involved in organising an exciting meeting in San Francisco, USA 2014. There, researchers representing different research institutions from all over the world presented their planned protocol to evaluate the use of pessary in preterm birth prevention. Up to my knowledge, this was the first time researchers from different continents came together to discuss their protocol before the start of their recruitment, or even before the start of writing their grand proposal. During this meeting, researchers not only expressed their intention to prospectively share their study data but also expressed the desire to unify common outcomes for future studies. At this point, I got involved in running a core outcome set project.
The aim of the project was to develop a consensus on a set of key clinical outcomes for the evaluation of preventive interventions for preterm birth in asymptomatic pregnant women. By utilising formal consensus methods, we identified a core outcome set of 13 outcomes for comparative health research on preventative interventions for preterm birth in asymptomatic women (for details reach van ’t Hooft et al. 2016)
This work could not have been achieved without the help of the 174 eDelphi participants, key stakeholders in preterm birth including parents, midwives, obstetricians, neonatologists and researchers from 25 countries. With their help, we achieved an international, multidisciplinary consensus on a core outcome set. But I feel we just started the work. The idea behind this core outcome set is that by using and reporting standardised data we will foster a culture of data sharing and achieve a better comparison of evaluated interventions. Through that research efforts will have a higher chance to more effectively inform clinical practice.
Dr van’t Hooft is an MD and PhD student at Academical Medical Center in Amsterdam and coordinated the Global Obstetrics Network (GoNet) activities. She will be also defending her PhD thesis entitled ‘Improving evaluation research in obstetric interventions’ this autumn.
For more news on core outcome set in preterm birth follow her @JannekevtHooft