The main objective of the Methods Group is to advise Cochrane reviewers about when and how to incorporate PROs into systematic reviews. Some Collaborative Review Groups have encountered difficulties when incorporating these data, including problems in pooling and interpreting data and in evaluating the validity of HRQL measures, including responsiveness. The PRO methods group is currently collecting examples of systematic reviews and meta-analsyes that focus primarily on PROs. Members are also participating in Cochrane Review Groups to advance attention to and use of PROs as part of systematic reviews.

This mission is important because clinical trials increasingly incorporate self-reported measures from patients to help determine whether treatments are doing more good than harm. While clinical and physiological measurements remain important markers of disease, injury, and their trajectories, patient-reported outcomes often have more meaning to the persons and loved ones affected by disease or treatment.

The Cochrane PRO MG intends:

  • refining methods of literature search on PRO studies
  • developing methods for systematically reviewing PRO studies
  • refining methods for meta-analysis of PRO studies (in collaboration with the Statistics MG)
  • refining methods for use of PRO measures in economic evaluations (in collaboration with the Economics MG)
  • advising on software development

It is possible that the work of other MGs especially that of the Statistics and Health Economics MG might overlap with the work of the PRO MG. Representatives from the Cochrane PRO MG will collaborate with other MGs to identify where and when such overlap may occur. The group will give advice to Cochrane Steering Group upon request, convene workshops on Health and Quality of Life issues and methods in response to the needs of Cochrane and prepare recommendations for the Cochrane Reviewers Handbook. Members of the group will take part in the preparation of Cochrane reviews and will give advice to reviewers either by writing or through training workshops.