The reporting of most dermatology clinical trials leaves much to be desired and outcome measures are a particular area of concern.
Core outcome sets
For example, in atopic eczema/dermatitis over 20 validated outcome scales are currently in use. It is essential that the IFDCTN plays an important role in encouraging the use of core outcome sets for clinical trials and harmonizes other critical aspects of clinical trial design that enable minimisation of bias.
The COMET (Core Outcome Measures in Effectiveness Trials) initiative brings together people interested in the development of agreed standardised sets of outcomes.
The GREAT database aims to provide a comprehensive, easy to use resource which contains information about randomised controlled trials of eczema treatments, in order to facilitate and speed up future research projects.
The aim of HOME is to develop a consensus based set of core outcome domains for eczema that can be used for controlled clinical trials, and for clinical record keeping.
The use of so many scales, each favoured by different countries where they were developed, is a major handicap to communicating results and to the potential for meta-analysis within systematic reviews.
Each clinical trial that is ever conducted has a second life within a systematic review, but if those trials all use a different way of measuring disease outcome, there's little hope of combining studies to produce a more precise answer.