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  • Letter
  • Open Access
  • Open Peer Review

The COMET initiative database: progress and activities update (2014)

  • 1Email author,
  • 1,
  • 2,
  • 3 and
  • 4
Trials201516:515

https://doi.org/10.1186/s13063-015-1038-x

  • Received: 26 February 2015
  • Accepted: 28 October 2015
  • Published:
Open Peer Review reports

Abstract

The COMET Initiative database is a repository of studies relevant to the development of core outcome sets (COS). Use of the website continues to increase, with more than 16,500 visits in 2014 (36 % increase over 2013), 12,257 unique visitors (47 % increase), 9780 new visitors (43 % increase) and a rise in the proportion of visits from outside the UK (8565 visits; 51 % of all visits). By December 2014, a total of 6588 searches had been completed, with 2383 in 2014 alone (11 % increase). The growing awareness of the need for COS is reflected in the website and database usage figures. 

Keywords

  • Core outcome set
  • database
  • resources

Findings

Background

The Core Outcome Measures in Effectiveness Trials (COMET) website and database were launched in August 2011, and the progress and activities up to 31 December 2013 were reported in Trials last year [1]. This letter outlines subsequent progress in 2014 (Source of data usage: Google Analytics). It provides data on the value and use of the COMET materials and on the interest in core outcome sets (COS) above and beyond what might be gleaned through, for example, data on the citation of key articles. COS represent the minimum outcomes that should be measured and reported in all clinical trials of a specific condition and may also be suitable for use in other types of research and clinical audit [2].

Activity and content

On 31 December 2014, 567 studies relevant to the development of COS were included in the COMET database, up from 306 at the end of 2013. These included a total of 80 planned and ongoing studies, and the database had been boosted considerably by the addition of studies identified through a systematic review of core outcome sets that identified 198 published COS [3]. Usage statistics show that the number of visits increased from 12,332 during 2013 to 16,768 in 2014: a 36 % increase. The number of unique visitors increased by 47 % from 8369 in 2013 to 12,257 in 2014, and the number of new visitors, by 43 % from 6844 in 2013 to 9780 in 2014. Full details are provided in Table 1. There was a 38 % increase in page views from 2013 to 2014 (53,226 to 73,617 page views). By December 2014, a total of 6588 searches of the database had been run (Fig. 1), with 2383 in 2014 alone. The sustained growth in use suggests that the COMET website and database are continuing to gain interest and prominence and that they are an effective resource for people interested in core outcome set development.
Table 1

Usage statistics 2013-2014

 

Number of visits

Number of unique visitors

Number of new visitors

 

2011

2012

2013

2014

2011

2012

2013

2014

2011

2012

2013

2014

January

-

670

1069

1282

-

450

657

985

-

385

542

842

February

-

762

1017

1052

-

463

648

849

-

378

525

736

March

-

649

1238

1221

-

429

761

942

-

358

617

406

April

-

683

1050

1244

-

466

678

961

-

395

564

831

May

-

659

1088

1113

-

407

721

774

-

330

504

622

June

-

435

1403

1043

-

305

887

714

-

260

703

569

July

-

472

945

1203

-

314

650

783

-

241

526

614

August

804

457

833

1673

503

324

576

1160

494

273

480

969

September

448

483

901

1604

314

347

623

1146

286

288

524

942

October

460

669

984

1832

295

516

802

1365

258

441

689

1135

November

686

1117

966

2260

484

854

727

1621

437

757

619

1338

December

580

926

838

1241

409

596

639

957

363

505

551

776

 

2978

7982

12332

16768

2005

5471

8369

12257

1838

4611

6844

9780

Fig. 1
Fig. 1

Cumulative number of completed searches in the COMET database (2011-2014)

As in previous years, most visits to the website were direct or via a search engine. Thirteen percent of all visits in 2014 were referrals, including Twitter (15 %), The Italian Cochrane Centre (6 %), MRC Network of Hubs for Trials Methodology Research (6 %), The University of Liverpool (5 %), BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (5 %), and Nature (4 %). The COMET IV meeting was jointly hosted by the Italian Cochrane Centre in Rome in November 2014, which reflects the large group of referrals from the Italian Cochrane Centre website; demonstrating how effective collaborative efforts can promote COMET. The Nature referrals can be explained by an editorial in Nature Medicine in August 2014 [4], demonstrating the impact of this type of high profile exposure.

Analyses of the COMET website data show that 57 % of visitors went beyond the page on which they landed. As in previous years, the most common first interaction was to complete a search in the COMET database. Other first interactions included moving to the page providing an overview of the COMET Initiative, accessing the database but without completing a search, and visiting the pages containing details of the COMET IV meeting or the COMET resources page. The Core Resource Pack is the second most highly accessed resource on the website (after the database), with 1064 page views in 2014, compared to 780 in 2013.

The content of the website continues to be updated regularly. In 2014, we extended the patient and public involvement resources beyond the Plain Language Summary that was available. There is now a Delphi Process Plain Language Summary, along with a Public Involvement Strategy outlining the COMET public involvement objectives and plans. In 2014, the plain language summary page was visited 301 times, and the Public Involvement page was visited 138 times since it was launched in August to December 2014.

The number of countries represented by visitors increased from a total of 113 in 2013 to 123 in 2014. A list of the 123 countries represented by visitors to the website in 2014 is shown in Appendix 1. This increase in the international use of the website and database is also reflected in the proportion of visits. In 2013, 59 % of the visits were from the United Kingdom (7256 of 12,332 visits). In 2014, the percentage of visits from the UK decreased to 49 % (8203 of 16768 visits), whereas visits from the United States and Canada rose to 16 % (from 12 % in 2013) and visits from the rest of the world increased to 35 % (29 % in 2013). This increase in visits from countries outside the UK reinforces COMET as an international initiative and demonstrates an increased global awareness and interest in core outcome sets and the COMET Initiative. Table 2 shows the ten countries with the most visits to the COMET website from 2012 to 2014. The presence of Japan in 2013 and India in 2014 reflects where COMET activities were undertaken, including the COMET workshop in Kyoto (2013) and the presence of the Cochrane Colloquium in Hyderabad (2014) [4]. This highlights the importance of international dissemination, but it is worth noting that all content and materials are provided in the English language only at the moment, and there are no immediate plans for translation.
Table 2

Countries represented by the most visits to the COMET website in 2012, 2013, and 2014

2012

2013

2014

United Kingdom

5,577

United Kingdom

7,526

United Kingdom

8,203

United States

431

United States

1,022

United States

2,038

Canada

326

Canada

501

Italy

1,115

Australia

201

Australia

321

Canada

624

Germany

186

Italy

315

Germany

581

Netherlands

166

Netherlands

308

Netherlands

510

Italy

161

Germany

285

Australia

494

France

125

Japan

228

France

374

Ireland

113

France

227

India

306

Norway

62

Ireland

159

Ireland

239

As noted above, 6588 searches have been completed in the database since its launch in August 2011 to December 2014, with 2383 in 2014. The search allows the user to take a structured approach to finding COS, and the most frequently used search criteria in 2014 were consistent with previous years. Disease category (74 %) was the most frequently used, followed by disease name (47 %), study type (30 %), type of intervention (26 %), methods used (25 %), and stakeholders involved (24 %). The most commonly searched terms were ‘cancer’ (n = 129), ‘mental health’ (n = 116), ‘pregnancy and childbirth’ (n = 86), and ‘neurology’ (n = 82).

Plans for the future

An update of our systematic review of core outcome sets [2] is planned for early 2015. This will help to keep the database up to date and ensure that it is an effective resource for users. As before, we continue to identify and include studies in an ad hoc way to keep the database current. A pop-up survey is planned for 2015 to gather information from users in order to evaluate how and why people are using the database. This will allow us, for example, to consider ways to improve the search functions available. Other activities for 2015 include the first COMET meeting (COMET V) to be held outside of Europe, in Calgary, Canada, in May. Finally, we plan to expand the patient and public involvement resources available on the website, and this will be a priority for the newly formed COMET Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) working group.

The COMET website and database usage figures will continue to be monitored and assessed annually.

Abbreviations

COMET: 

Core Outcome Measures in Effectiveness Trials

COS: 

core outcome set(s)

Declarations

Acknowledgments

This work was funded by the MRC MRP (Medical Research Council Methodology Research Panel), grant number MR/J004847/1; and European Union Seventh Framework Programme ([FP7/2007-2013] [FP7/2007-2011]) under grant agreement n° 305081.

Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

Authors’ Affiliations

(1)
Department of Biostatistics, University of Liverpool, Block F Waterhouse Building, 1-5 Brownlow Street, Liverpool, L69 3GL, UK
(2)
Centre for Statistics in Medicine, Botnar Research Centre, University of Oxford, Windmill Road, Oxford, OX3 7LD, UK
(3)
School of Social and Community Medicine, University of Bristol, Canynge Hall, 39 Whatley Road, Bristol, BS8 2PS, UK
(4)
Queens University Belfast, Institute of Clinical Sciences, Block B, Royal Hospitals, Grosvenor Road, Belfast, BT12 6BA, UK

References

  1. Gargon E, Williamson PR, Altman DG, Blazeby JM, Clarke M. The COMET initiative database: progress and activities from 2011 to 2013. Trials. 2014;15:279.View ArticlePubMedPubMed CentralGoogle Scholar
  2. Clarke M. Standardising outcomes for clinical trials and systematic reviews. Trials. 2007;8:39.View ArticlePubMedPubMed CentralGoogle Scholar
  3. Gargon E, Gurung B, Medley N, Altman DG, Blazeby JM, Clarke M, et al. Choosing important health outcomes for comparative effectiveness research: a systematic review. PLoS One. 2014;9:e99111.View ArticlePubMedPubMed CentralGoogle Scholar
  4. Keener AB. Group seeks standardization for what clinical trials must measure. Nat Med. 2014;20:798–9.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar

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