Alex Hodges, Senior Research Nurse, reports back from the 2nd COMET Initiative conference

The COMET Initiative was launched at a meeting in Liverpool in January 2010, funded by the MRC North West Hub for Trials Methodology (NWHTMR). More than 110 people attended, with representatives from health service users, clinical teams, journal editors, trial funders, policy makers, systematic reviewers, trials registries and regulators. The feedback was uniformly supportive, indicating a strong consensus that now is the time for such an initiative.

The COMET Initiative brings together researchers interested in the development and application of agreed standardised sets of outcomes, known as a ‘core outcome set.’ These sets should represent the minimum that should be measured and reported in all clinical trials of a specific condition. They do not imply that outcomes in a particular trial should be restricted to those in the core outcome set. Rather, there is an expectation that the core outcomes will be collected and reported to allow the results of trials to be compared, contrasted and combined as appropriate; and that researchers will continue to explore other outcomes as well.

I attended the 2nd COMET Initiative at Ashton Court Mansion in July, joined by 150 delegates from Europe, the US and UK.

The first day offered a varied programme, including an update on the progress of COMET since that first launch meeting.  Talks and presentations on the advantages of core outcome sets, issues to consider, The Delphi Technique, the success and progress of OMERACT.  Poster viewings and a group work session took place in the afternoon.

Split into groups, we had to perform a SWOT analysis of advantages and disadvantages of getting patient groups involved in COMET, come up with our top three points and then a vote.  The overwhelming majority of the overall vote was in favour of having a patient group involved in COMET.

The second day offered further lectures, my favourite being that by Sir Iain Chalmers, co-ordinator of The James Lind Initiative, on addressing patients’ and clinicians’ uncertainties about the effects of treatments. A panel discussion and poster presentations completed the programme.

All the slides and audio from the presentations of the meeting are now available on the COMET website and I recommend nurses take a look at these.

The COMET website live searchable database was launched on 29th July 2011.  Users can now search for planned, ongoing and completed studies with an advanced search option.

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