Guidelines for Reporting Outcomes in Trial Protocols: The SPIRIT-Outcomes 2022 Extension

Nancy J. Butcher*, Andrea Monsour, Emma J. Mew, An Wen Chan, David Moher, Evan Mayo-Wilson, Caroline B. Terwee, Alyssandra Chee-A-Tow, Ami Baba, Frank Gavin, Jeremy M. Grimshaw, Lauren E. Kelly, Leena Saeed, Lehana Thabane, Lisa Askie, Maureen Smith, Mufiza Farid-Kapadia, Paula R. Williamson, Peter Szatmari, Peter TugwellRobert M. Golub, Suneeta Monga, Sunita Vohra, Susan Marlin, Wendy J. Ungar, Martin Offringa

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Importance: Complete information in a trial protocol regarding study outcomes is crucial for obtaining regulatory approvals, ensuring standardized trial conduct, reducing research waste, and providing transparency of methods to facilitate trial replication, critical appraisal, accurate reporting and interpretation of trial results, and knowledge synthesis. However, recommendations on what outcome-specific information should be included are diverse and inconsistent. To improve reporting practices promoting transparent and reproducible outcome selection, assessment, and analysis, a need for specific and harmonized guidance as to what outcome-specific information should be addressed in clinical trial protocols exists. Objective: To develop harmonized, evidence- and consensus-based standards for describing outcomes in clinical trial protocols through integration with the Standard Protocol Items: Recommendations for Interventional Trials (SPIRIT) 2013 statement. Evidence Review: Using the Enhancing the Quality and Transparency of Health Research (EQUATOR) methodological framework, the SPIRIT-Outcomes 2022 extension of the SPIRIT 2013 statement was developed by (1) generation and evaluation of candidate outcome reporting items via consultation with experts and a scoping review of existing guidance for reporting trial outcomes (published within the 10 years prior to March 19, 2018) identified through expert solicitation, electronic database searches of MEDLINE and the Cochrane Methodology Register, gray literature searches, and reference list searches; (2) a 3-round international Delphi voting process (November 2018-February 2019) completed by 124 panelists from 22 countries to rate and identify additional items; and (3) an in-person consensus meeting (April 9-10, 2019) attended by 25 panelists to identify essential items for outcome-specific reporting to be addressed in clinical trial protocols. Findings: The scoping review and consultation with experts identified 108 recommendations relevant to outcome-specific reporting to be addressed in trial protocols, the majority (72%) of which were not included in the SPIRIT 2013 statement. All recommendations were consolidated into 56 items for Delphi voting; after the Delphi survey process, 19 items met criteria for further evaluation at the consensus meeting and possible inclusion in the SPIRIT-Outcomes 2022 extension. The discussions during and after the consensus meeting yielded 9 items that elaborate on the SPIRIT 2013 statement checklist items and are related to completely defining and justifying the choice of primary, secondary, and other outcomes (SPIRIT 2013 statement checklist item 12) prospectively in the trial protocol, defining and justifying the target difference between treatment groups for the primary outcome used in the sample size calculations (SPIRIT 2013 statement checklist item 14), describing the responsiveness of the study instruments used to assess the outcome and providing details on the outcome assessors (SPIRIT 2013 statement checklist item 18a), and describing any planned methods to account for multiplicity relating to the analyses or interpretation of the results (SPIRIT 2013 statement checklist item 20a). Conclusions and Relevance: This SPIRIT-Outcomes 2022 extension of the SPIRIT 2013 statement provides 9 outcome-specific items that should be addressed in all trial protocols and may help increase trial utility, replicability, and transparency and may minimize the risk of selective nonreporting of trial results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2345-2356
Number of pages12
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 20 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Guidelines for Reporting Outcomes in Trial Protocols: The SPIRIT-Outcomes 2022 Extension'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this