Core outcome sets (COS) can enhance the relevance of research by ensuring that outcomes of importance to health service users and other people making choices about health care in a particular topic area are measured routinely. Over 200 COS to date have been developed, but the clarity of these reports is suboptimal. COS studies will not achieve their goal if reports of COS are not complete and transparent.
In recognition of these issues, an international group that included experienced COS developers, methodologists, journal editors, potential users of COS (clinical trialists, systematic reviewers, and clinical guideline developers), and patient representatives developed the Core Outcome Set–STAndards for Reporting (COS-STAR) Statement as a reporting guideline for COS studies. The developmental process consisted of an initial reporting item generation stage and a two-round Delphi survey involving nearly 200 participants representing key stakeholder groups, followed by a consensus meeting. The COS-STAR Statement consists of a checklist of 18 items considered essential for transparent and complete reporting in all COS studies. The checklist items focus on the introduction, methods, results, and discussion section of a manuscript describing the development of a particular COS. A limitation of the COS-STAR Statement is that it was developed without representative views of low- and middle-income countries. COS have equal relevance to studies conducted in these areas, and, subsequently, this guideline may need to evolve over time to encompass any additional challenges from developing COS in these areas.
Paula Williamson and colleagues present reporting standards for studies that report core outcome sets for health research.