What is an ‘Outcome’?
The GASTROS study is aims to develop a ‘core outcome set’ to address challenges that currently exists within the field of gastric cancer surgery research. In this article we explain what an ‘outcome’ is.
What is an outcome?
There are many ways that the term ‘outcome’ is used. Within the context of research studies, the term means any effect that results from a treatment that tells us how effective that treatment is.
What are the different types of outcomes?
There are lots of different types of outcomes that research studies measure. They can be organised into 5 broad categories:
1. Mortality and survival: These are outcomes related to living and dying following a treatment.
2. Clinical or physiological outcomes: These are outcomes which relate to the effect that a treatment has on the different body systems. An example may include if the treatment has an effect on the respiratory system (lungs).
3. Life impact outcomes: These are outcomes which relate to the effect that a treatment has on a patient’s life. An example may include whether a treatment has an effect on a patient’s overall quality of life.
4. Resource use: These are outcomes which relate to the degree to which a treatment uses different resources. For example, how much money a treatment costs or how long a patient needs to stay in hospital following a treatment.
5. Adverse Events: These are outcomes which relate to complications which result from a treatment.
Why are outcomes important?
Outcomes help researchers decide which is the best treatment for patients. For example, if a research study is comparing two types of surgery, researchers may decide to compare which one causes fewer complications to tell them which one is better for patients.
What are the current problems with measuring outcomes in gastric cancer surgery research?
To decide which types of surgery for gastric cancer are best for patients, researchers need to compare and combine outcomes from many different studies. Because researchers decide to measure different outcomes to one another, it means that we are unable to compare and combine outcomes properly. We also know that the outcomes that are measured in studies are not necessarily the ones which patients want to know about.
What is the solution to this problem?
The GASTROS study is developing a core outcome set. This is a group of outcomes that surgeons, nurses and patients agree are so important that they should be measured by all research studies as a minimum. As these outcomes will be well-defined and measured in the same way, it will allow researchers to compare and combine outcomes from different studies in future.
If you would like more information about how you can help us develop a core outcome set, please click here.