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Crit Care. 2009;13(6):1016. doi: 10.1186/cc8163. Epub 2009 Dec 16.

Standardisation of data collection in traumatic brain injury: key to the future?

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Department of Neurosurgery, University Hospital Antwerp, Edegem, Belgium.


Great variability exists in data collection and coding of variables in studies on traumatic brain injury (TBI). This confounds comparison of results and analysis of data across studies. The difficulties in performing a meta-analysis of individual patient data were recently illustrated in the IMPACT project (International Mission on Prognosis and Clinical Trial Design in TBI): merging data from 11 studies involved over 10 person years of work. However, these studies did confirm the great potential for advancing the field by this approach. Although randomized controlled trials remain the prime approach for investigating treatment effects, these can never address the many uncertainties concerning multiple treatment modalities in TBI. Pooling data from different studies may provide the best possible source of evidence we can get in a cost efficient way. Standardisation of data collection and coding is essential to this purpose. Recommendations hereto have been proposed by an interagency initiative in the US. These proposals deserve to be taken forward at an international level. This initiative may well constitute one of the most important steps forwards, paving the road for harvesting successful results in the near future.

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