Core Outcome Measures in Effectiveness Trials

Adding data from a new trial to the meta-analyses from an existing Cochrane Review

Core outcome sets make it easier for researchers to report the findings of a new trial in the context of an up-to-date systematic review of other relevant research,[1] and some leading journals, such as the Lancet, ask authors of reports of new studies to do this before publishing their findings.[2] A little known feature of Cochrane Reviews, highlighted in this note, makes it relatively easy to add the results of a new trial to a meta-analysis reported within an existing systematic review: the whole, structured dataset used for the meta-analyses in each Cochrane Review can be exported with a few clicks. If you go to and look in the Data and Analysis section of every Cochrane Review, the first thing you will see is a link to download a file containing the data from the analyses done within the review. This file is in RevMan format, the software used to prepare Cochrane Reviews, which is free for non commercial use.[3] Having opened the datafile in RevMan, you can then type in the results from the new study to generate revised forest plots,[4] which can then be printed, saved and submitted for publication.

  1. 1. Clarke M, Hopewell S, Chalmers I. Clinical trials should begin and end with systematic reviews of relevant evidence: 12 years and waiting. Lancet 2010;376:20-21.
  2. 2. Clark S, Horton R. Putting research into context – revisited. Lancet 2010;376:10-11
  3. 3.
  4. 4. Lewis S, Clarke M. Forest plots: trying to see the wood and the trees. BMJ 2001;322:1479-1480.

As an example, you can see one such link here

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