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Core outcomes set for trials in people with COVID-19

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Tong, Allison 
Elliott, Julian H 
Cesar Azevedo, Luciano 
Baumgart, Amanda 
Bersten, Andrew 


Objective: The outcomes reported in trials in COVID-19 are extremely heterogeneous and of uncertain patient relevance, limiting their applicability for clinical decision-making. The aim of this workshop was to establish a core outcomes set for trials in people with suspected or confirmed COVID-19. Design: Four international online multi-stakeholder consensus workshops were convened to discuss proposed core outcomes for trials in people with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, informed by a survey involving 9289 respondents from 111 countries. The transcripts were analyzed thematically. The workshop recommendations were used to finalize the core outcomes set Setting: International Participants: Adults aged 18 years and over with confirmed or suspected COVID-19, their family members, members of the general public and health professionals (including clinicians, policy makers, regulators, funders, researchers). Main Results: Six themes were identified. Responding to the critical and acute health crisis reflected the immediate focus on saving lives and preventing life-threatening complications that underpinned the high prioritization of mortality, respiratory failure, and multiorgan failure. Capturing different settings of care highlighted the need to minimize the burden on hospitals and to acknowledge outcomes in community settings. Encompassing the full trajectory and severity of disease was addressing longer-term impacts and the full spectrum of illness (e.g. shortness of breath and recovery). Distinguishing overlap, correlation and collinearity meant recognizing that symptoms such as shortness of breath had distinct value, and minimizing overlap (e.g. lung function and pneumonia were on the continuum toward respiratory failure). Recognizing adverse events refers to the potential harms of new and evolving interventions. Being cognizant of family and psychosocial wellbeing reflected the pervasive impacts of COVID-19. Conclusions: Mortality, respiratory failure, multiorgan failure, shortness of breath, and recovery are critically important outcomes to be consistently reported in COVID-19 trials.



Journal Title

Critical Care Medicine

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Wolters Kluwer Health


All rights reserved
Wellcome Trust (205214/Z/16/Z)
The project is funded by the Flinders University and the National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce, convened by the Australian Living Evidence Consortium, hosted by Cochrane Australia, School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University supported by the Australian Government, Victorian Department of Health and Human Services, Ian Potter Foundation, Walter Cottman Endowment Fund (managed by Equity Trustees) and the Lord Mayor's Charitable Foundation). AT is supported by The University of Sydney Robinson Fellowship. ACM is supported by a Clinical Research Career Development Fellowship from the Wellcome Trust (WT 2055214/Z/16/Z)