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BACKGROUND: Neonatal research evaluates many different outcomes using multiple measures. This can prevent synthesis of trial results in meta-analyses, and selected outcomes may not be relevant to former patients, parents and health professionals. OBJECTIVE: To define a core outcome set (COS) for research involving infants receiving neonatal care in a high-income setting. DESIGN: Outcomes reported in neonatal trials and qualitative studies were systematically reviewed. Stakeholders were recruited for a three-round international Delphi survey. A consensus meeting was held to confirm the final COS, based on the survey results. PARTICIPANTS: Four hundred and fourteen former patients, parents, healthcare professionals and researchers took part in the eDelphi survey; 173 completed all three rounds. Sixteen stakeholders participated in the consensus meeting. RESULTS: The literature reviews identified 104 outcomes; these were included in round 1. Participants proposed 10 additional outcomes; 114 outcomes were scored in rounds 2 and 3. Round 1 scores showed different stakeholder groups prioritised contrasting outcomes. Twelve outcomes were included in the final COS: survival, sepsis, necrotising enterocolitis, brain injury on imaging, general gross motor ability, general cognitive ability, quality of life, adverse events, visual impairment/blindness, hearing impairment/deafness, retinopathy of prematurity and chronic lung disease/bronchopulmonary dysplasia. CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: A COS for clinical trials and other research studies involving infants receiving neonatal care in a high-income setting has been identified. This COS for neonatology will help standardise outcome selection in clinical trials and ensure these are relevant to those most affected by neonatal care.

Original publication




Journal article


Arch Dis Child Fetal Neonatal Ed

Publication Date



evidence based medicine, neonatology, outcomes research