Background to the project
Awareness is growing of problems with the choice of outcomes to measure and report in trials, and the waste that this is causing. These include inconsistencies in what and how outcomes are measured across clinical trials; selective reporting of outcomes in some trials; and differences between the outcomes measured in trials and the outcomes that patients consider important. One solution to these problems that is beginning to take hold is for clinical trialists in a particular topic area to measure and report, as a minimum, a core outcome set (COS). A COS is an agreed standardised collection of outcomes that should be measured and reported in a specific area of health.
This reduction in waste will only be realised however if researchers choosing outcomes for randomised controlled trials include COS in their studies. The continuous development of COS, without uptake, could itself result in research waste. Recent work has shown that uptake of COS is variable but generally still low1,2. Research is needed to improve the uptake of COS.
What the studentship will encompass:
The student will gain an understanding of the area through an update of the earlier review of COS uptake projects1, and may undertake a quantitative analysis of factors affecting uptake. They will conduct a survey or interviews with: (i) trialists – to understand how they arrived at the COMET database, and what influenced their decision to consider a COS; and (ii) stakeholders in the wider evidence ecosystem, including systematic reviewers, patient organisations, clinical guideline and health technology assessment organisations – to explore what they could do within their organisation to promote COS uptake.
Various issues may emerge, providing the student with options for further research depending on their interest and experience. These may include: the development and testing of interventions with funders to improve uptake; educational interventions through trial registries and research ethics committees; development and evaluation of a system-level framework with UK and international organisations; exploring how industry researchers choose outcomes for study.
Paula Williamson and Mike Clarke are experienced COS developers. Bridget Young is experienced in mixed methods research. Ian Saldanha is an experienced systematic reviewer. All are experienced COS methods researchers.
Opportunities exist for placements at NICE and Roche, with these organisations providing letters of support. We would explore opportunities with Cochrane, NIHR and HRA.
The COMET PoPPIE (People and Patients Participation, Involvement and Engagement) Coordinator, Heather Barrington, will be a research collaborator.
A working knowledge of clinical trials and a willingness to undertake qualitative interviews (with training as required), is required.
HOW TO APPLY
You are applying for a PhD studentship from the MRC TMRP DTP. A list of potential projects and the application form is available online at:
Please complete the form fully. Incomplete forms will not be considered. CVs will not be accepted for this scheme.
Please apply giving details for your first choice project. You can provide details of up to two other TMRP DTP projects you may be interested in at section B of the application form.
Before making an application, applicants should contact the project primary supervisor to find out more about the project and to discuss their interests in the research.
The deadline for applications is 4pm (GMT) 18 February 2022. Late applications will not be considered.
Completed application forms must be returned to: [Email Address Removed]
Informal enquiries may be made to [Email Address Removed]