Skip to content

Advertisement

Open Access
Open Peer Review

This article has Open Peer Review reports available.

How does Open Peer Review work?

The COMET Initiative database: progress and activities update (2015)

  • E. Gargon1Email author,
  • P. R. Williamson1,
  • D. G. Altman2,
  • J. M. Blazeby3,
  • S. Tunis4 and
  • M. Clarke5
Trials201718:54

https://doi.org/10.1186/s13063-017-1788-8

Received: 25 May 2016

Accepted: 9 January 2017

Published: 3 February 2017

Abstract

This letter describes the substantial activity on the Core Outcome Measure in Effectiveness Trials (COMET) website in 2015, updating our earlier progress reports for the period from the launch of the COMET website and database in August 2011 to December 2014. As in previous years, 2015 saw further increases in the annual number of visits to the website, the number of pages viewed and the number of searches undertaken. The sustained growth in use of the website and database suggests that COMET is continuing to gain interest and prominence, and that the resources are useful to people interested in the development of core outcome sets.

Keywords

Core outcome setDatabaseResources

Correspondence/findings

Background

As the New Year bells were ringing and the fireworks were exploding to welcome 2016 in cities such as Fray Bentos in South America, an Internet user in Tianjin, China ran the 10,000th search of the Core Outcome Measures in Effectiveness Trials (COMET) database. They were looking for information about non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC), and will have been shown details of two core outcome sets (COS) recently added to the database [1, 2]. This letter describes the substantial activity on the COMET website [3] in the 365 days before that search. We update our earlier progress since the launch of the COMET website and database in August 2011 to December 2014 [4, 5].

Activity and content

A total of 720 studies relevant to the development of COS were included in the COMET database at the end of December 2015, with 147 added during the year. This included 32 reports relating to 29 COS identified in the most recent update to the systematic review of COS [2], which had originally been performed in 2013 [1].

As in previous years, 2015 saw further increases in the annual number of visits to the website (Table 1) and although the proportional change declined in 2015, the absolute numbers continue to increase. For instance, the proportional increase in new visitors from 2014 to 2015 was 33%, compared to 43% for 2013 to 2014; but the absolute increase from 2014 to 2015 was 3269 compared to 2936 for 2013 to 2014. Most visitors to the website arrived either via links following an organic search using a search engine, such as Google (68%), or direct (20%) (Fig. 1). However, new for 2015, were arrivals from links in emails, which is in large part attributable to the move of the COMET newsletter from a PDF format to an email format.
Table 1

Core Outcome Measures in Effectiveness Trials (COMET) website usage statistics 2012 to 2015

 

Number of visits

Number of unique visitors

Number of new visitors

Number of searches

Year

2012

2013

2014

2015

2012

2013

2014

2015

2012

2013

2014

2015

2012

2013

2014

2015

Total

7982

12332

16768

20952

5471

8369

12257

15366

4611

6844

9780

13049

1597

2139

2383

3411

Increase per year (%)

n/a

55%

36%

25%

n/a

53%

47%

25%

n/a

48%

43%

33%

n/a

34%

11%

43%

Overall increase from 2012 to 2015 (%)

163%

181%

183%

114%

Figure 1
Fig. 1

Core Outcome Measures in Effectiveness Trials (COMET) website acquisition overview

Social media also leads many people to the website and Twitter accounted for 89% of social referrals to the COMET website in 2015 (Table 2). The COMET Twitter account is monitored by the research team and tweets are sent when new COS papers are published, to announce relevant presentations at conferences and to retweet COS-related tweets from others that we follow. The COMET account has more than 1300 followers and the Twitter page links to the COMET website.
Table 2

Examples of Twitter referrals

The highest proportions of referrals were from the Core Outcomes in Women’s Health (CROWN) Initiative (10%), the University of Liverpool (6%), Trials journal (5%), MRC Hubs for Trials Methodology Research (5%), Cochrane Canada (5%) and the Standard Protocol Items: Recommendations for Interventional Trials (SPIRIT) initiative (4%). CROWN is an international initiative to harmonise outcome reporting in women’s health research. More than 70 journals have committed to encouraging the development and reporting of COS in this area and CROWN advises all COS developers to register with COMET [6]. Trials has published several COS papers which generated referrals to the COMET website, including ‘Developing core outcome sets for clinical trials: issues to consider’ [7], the special collection of the meeting proceedings and abstracts from the 4th COMET meeting in Rome in November 2014, and the report of the first meeting to discuss Trial Forge [8]. The 5th COMET meeting was jointly hosted with Cochrane Canada in Calgary in May 2015, hence the large number of referrals from Cochrane Canada, and the more than doubling in the annual number of visits from Canada, from 624 in 2014 to 1449 in 2015 (Table 3). The referrals from SPIRIT reflect that initiative’s encouragement of trial investigators to consider measuring the outcomes in a COS in their trial as part of their effort to improve the quality of clinical trial protocols by defining an evidence-based set of items to address in a protocol.
Table 3

Countries with the most visits to the Core Outcome Measure in Effectiveness Trials (COMET) website in 2012 to 2015

2012

2013

2014

2015

United Kingdom

5577

United Kingdom

7526

United Kingdom

8203

United Kingdom

9862

United States

431

United States

1022

United States

2038

United States

2444

Canada

326

Canada

501

Italy

1115

Canada

1449

Australia

201

Australia

321

Canada

624

Australia

654

Germany

186

Italy

315

Germany

581

France

593

Netherlands

166

Netherlands

308

Netherlands

510

Netherlands

570

Italy

161

Germany

285

Australia

494

Germany

553

France

125

Japan

228

France

374

India

477

Ireland

113

France

227

India

306

Italy

439

Norway

62

Ireland

159

Ireland

239

Ireland

415

In 2015, there were a total 80,799 page views, a 10% increase from 73,617 in 2014. Analyses of the COMET website data show that 56% of visitors went beyond the page on which they landed in 2015, similar to 2014 and, as in previous years, the most common first interaction was to search the COMET database. Other first interactions included moving to the overview of the COMET Initiative, accessing the database without completing a search, and checking the resources page. This Core Resource Pack is once again the second most highly accessed resource on the website (after the database), with 1372 page views in 2015, compared to 1064 in 2014 (29% increase).

The total number of visits increased by 25% in 2015 compared to 2014.The number of unique visitors also increased by 25%, and the number of new visitors increased by 33%. Full details are provided in Table 1. Visitors came from 127 countries, with 53% of visits now coming from outside the UK, an increase of 2% from 8565/16,768 in 2014 to 11,090/20,952 in 2015 (Table 3).

By the end of December 2015 in the time zone of the COMET website, a total of 9999 searches had been undertaken in the COMET database, with 3411 in 2015 alone (a 43% increase from 2014). The most frequently used search criteria were consistent with previous years with the most frequently searched category being Disease Category. The ‘top 10’ searched for terms are shown in Table 4. In 2014, the most commonly searched term was ‘cancer’ (n = 129) and although this increased to 137 searches in 2015, it was superseded in 2015 by ‘pregnancy and childbirth’ (n = 193).
Table 4

‘Top 10’ search terms in 2015

Category

Number

Pregnancy and childbirth

193

Cancer

137

Neurology

88

Mental health

79

Gynaecology

77

Skin

76

Heart and circulation

69

Anaesthesia and pain control

68

Dentistry and oral health

65

Orthopaedics and trauma

65

In 2015, we conducted a pop-up survey to find out why people were searching in the COMET database. The survey appeared at the beginning of each search during a 1-month period, asking people to select single response to give their reason for searching in the COMET database. Full details of the survey have been published [2] but, in summary, it showed that the most common reasons for searching the database were to inform decision-making about developing a COS, or to inform the outcomes in planning a clinical trial. The pop-up survey also confirmed the importance of keeping the contents of the database up to date, if it is to help researchers to avoid unnecessary duplication of effort and minimise waste [9].

The sustained growth in use of the website and database suggests that COMET is continuing to gain interest and prominence, and that the resources are useful to people interested in COS development. To help ensure that the content is kept up to date a second update of the systematic review of COS [1, 2] is underway and 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)

CROWN: 

Core Outcomes in Women’s Health

NSCLC: 

Non-small-cell lung cancer

SPIRIT: 

Standard Protocol Items: Recommendations for Interventional Trials

Declarations

Acknowledgements

Ms. Mel Major, Associate Professor Marike vander Schaaf and Professor Dale Needham consent for their Twitter profiles and tweets to be used in this manuscript.

Funding

This work was supported by the MRC North West Hub for Trials Methodology Research (MR/K025635/1), and the NIHR Senior Investigators Award (NF-SI_0513-10025).

Availability of data and materials

Not applicable (but data used to prepare the tables is available from the authors).

Authors’ contributions

EG and MC conceived the idea for these periodic reports. EG performed the analysis. EG, PW, MC, JB, ST and DA interpreted data. EG wrote the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Competing interests

DA, JB, MC, ST and PW are members of the COMET Management Group and coapplicants on grants to support COMET and related work. EG is a member of the COMET Management Group and is the COMET project coordinator.

Consent for publication

Not applicable.

Ethics approval and consent to participate

Not applicable.

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, Liverpool, UK
(2)
University of Oxford, Centre for Statistics in Medicine, Botnar Research Centre, Oxford, UK
(3)
School of Social and Community Medicine, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
(4)
Center for Medical Technology Policy (CMTP), World Trade Center Baltimore, Baltimore, USA
(5)
Queen’s University Belfast, Institute of Clinical Sciences, Block B, Royal Hospitals, Belfast, UK

References

  1. Gargon E, et al. Choosing important health outcomes for comparative effectiveness research: a systematic review. PLoS One. 2014;9(6):e99111.View ArticlePubMedPubMed CentralGoogle Scholar
  2. Gorst SL, et al. Choosing important health outcomes for comparative effectiveness research: an updated review and user survey. PLoS One. 2016;11(1):e0146444.View ArticlePubMedPubMed CentralGoogle Scholar
  3. COMET. Core Outcome Measures in Effectiveness Trials. Available from: www.comet-initiative.org. Accessed 27 Jan 2017.
  4. Gargon E, et al. The COMET Initiative database: progress and activities from 2011 to 2013. Trials. 2014;15(1):279.View ArticlePubMedPubMed CentralGoogle Scholar
  5. Gargon E, et al. The COMET Initiative database: progress and activities update (2014). Trials. 2015;16(1):515.View ArticlePubMedPubMed CentralGoogle Scholar
  6. Khan K. The CROWN Initiative: journal editors invite researchers to develop core outcomes in women’s health. J Ovarian Res. 2015;8(1):6.View ArticlePubMedPubMed CentralGoogle Scholar
  7. Williamson PR, et al. Developing core outcome sets for clinical trials: issues to consider. Trials. 2012;13(1):132.View ArticlePubMedPubMed CentralGoogle Scholar
  8. Treweek S, et al. Making randomised trials more efficient: report of the first meeting to discuss the Trial Forge platform. Trials. 2015;16:261.View ArticlePubMedPubMed CentralGoogle Scholar
  9. Ioannidis JPA, et al. Increasing value and reducing waste in research design, conduct, and analysis. Lancet. 2014;383(9912):166–75.View ArticlePubMedPubMed CentralGoogle Scholar

Copyright

© The Author(s). 2017

Comments

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate. Please note that comments may be removed without notice if they are flagged by another user or do not comply with our community guidelines.

Advertisement