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Some developments

PROSPERO: an international prospective register of systematic reviews

PROSPERO.JPGPROSPERO is the first open access online facility to prospectively register systematic reviews of the effects of interventions used in health and social care from all around the world. The aim of the register is to increase transparency in the review process and guard against selective reporting; making it obvious if the research that is published differs from what was planned at the outset. By providing information about reviews in progress, PROSPERO should help reduce unplanned duplication and may assist in the planning and timing of guideline development.

The Centre for Reviews and Dissemination (CRD), at the University of York, UK, developed and launched the register in February 2011 following an international consultation, which identified 22 required items and 18 optional items as the minimum dataset for registration. PROSPERO’s web-based registration platform offers free public access, both for searching and registration and is open to all prospective registrants at Registration requires the completion of the minimum data set, the clarity of which is checked on submission. Once accepted, records are published on the database as a permanent entry and a unique identification number issued; links to resulting publications are added once available.  Registration processes with major producers of reviews are being developed, including an electronic upload mechanism for protocols from the Cochrane Library.

There has been enthusiastic international support for the principle of systematic review registration from funders, producers, publishers and users of systematic reviews, including G-I-N. A number of commissioning agencies, starting with the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CHIR), have made registration a requirement of systematic review funding. PLoS, BMJ and the new BMC journal Systematic Reviews are supporting the initiative by asking in their instructions to authors that where a systematic review has been prospectively registered, the registry number be included in the abstract.

By mid November 2011 we have 216 records on PROSPERO, with registered reviews being undertaken in 28 different countries. An evaluation of the registration process is planned for early 2012, but comments and suggestions are welcome at anytime (to ). We look forward to building on the successful start to this service and achieving the ultimate aim of improving the quality of systematic reviews and the decisions that rely upon them.

Alison Booth, on behalf of the PROSPERO advisory group.

G-I-N promotes systematic development of clinical practice guidelines and reduction of duplication of efforts. The principle of

prospective registration of systematic reviews can also participate to these goals and G-I-N supports it.

Survey findings on a Clinical Guideline development course

The April 2011 issue of “enGINe” contained a demand-assessment survey on a short-course proposed by the National Collaborating Centre for Women’s and Children’s Health (NCC-WCH). We would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who took the time to respond to this survey and the editorial staff for giving us the opportunity to feedback on our findings.

We were interested in finding out what both the individual and their organisations would find useful in a short course on developing clinical guidelines. Fifty people, of whom 26 were systematic reviewers and 15 clinical guideline developers, responded.

The majority (96%) of respondents indicated that content specific learning and new methodologies/software would be of interest to them personally, while sessions by commissioners, international experts, practical sessions and blended learning (online/webinars) would be of interest to their organisations.

When asked what respondents thought would be useful in the short course responses were as follows:

To respondents

To respondents organisations

cost (26%)

cost (32%),

scope for problem-solving (20%)

course materials (20%),

variety of teaching methods (17%)

ability to replicate the course for their colleagues (20%)

non-prescriptive content (17%)



These responses have been taken into account when planning the content of this course resulting in the course

  • being competitively priced compared with other evidence-based medicine courses
  • having problem-solving sessions as well as group work,
  • making the course materials available online for all attendees

The course has now been approved by our host institution, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG). The course is targeted towards guideline developers and all healthcare professionals and providers interested in learning the key concepts involved in the design and production of high quality clinical guidelines. It will be assumed that participants will have prior experience of conducting systematic reviews. Participants should also have a good command of English.

The inaugural course is to be held at the RCOG in London on May 8-10 2012 (For additional details and/or to book your place on this course, please go to

Thank you once again,

Hugh McGuire

Senior research fellow and course co-ordinator

National Collaborating Centre for Women’s and Children’s Health

Page last updated: Dec 16, 2011
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