Review finds core outcome set uptake in new studies and systematic reviews needs improvement

Paula R. Williamson, Heather Barrington, Jane M. Blazeby, Mike Clarke, Elizabeth Gargon, Sarah Gorst, Ian J. Saldanha, Sean Tunis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Objectives: To review evidence about the uptake of core outcome sets (COS). A COS is an agreed standardized set of outcomes that should be measured and reported, as a minimum, in all clinical trials in a specific area of health or healthcare. Study Design and Setting: This article provides an analysis of what is known about the uptake of COS in research. Similarities between COS and outcomes recommended by stakeholders in the evidence ecosystem is reviewed and actions taken by them to facilitate COS uptake described. Results: COS uptake is low in most research areas. Common facilitators relate to trialist awareness and understanding. Common barriers were not including in the development process all specialties that might use the COS and the lack of recommendations for how to measure the outcomes. Increasingly, COS developers are considering strategies for promoting uptake earlier in the process, including actions beyond traditional dissemination approaches. An overlap between COS and outcomes in regulatory documents and health technology assessments is good. An increasing number and variety of organizations are recommending COS be considered. Conclusion: We suggest actions for various stakeholders for improving COS uptake. Research is needed to assess the impact of these actions to identify effective evidence-based strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)154-164
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Clinical Epidemiology
StatePublished - Oct 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • COS
  • Clinical trials
  • Core outcome set
  • Outcome reporting bias
  • Research waste
  • Uptake

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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