Development of core outcome sets for gastrointestinal recovery after surgery and surgical disease


Stephen Chapman, NIHR Doctoral Research Fellow, University of Leeds, and Matt Lee, NIHR Clinical Lecturer, University of Sheffield.

Project supervisor

Miss Nicola Fearnhead, Consultant Surgeon

Gastrointestinal recovery describes the restoration of normal bowel function in patients with bowel disease. This may be prolonged in two common settings: postoperative ileus and small bowel obstruction. Improving gastrointestinal recovery is a research priority but researchers are limited by variation in outcome reporting across clinical studies.

The aim of this study is to develop core outcome sets for gastrointestinal recovery in the contexts of ileus and small bowel obstruction. An international Steering Group consisting of patient and clinician representatives has been established. As overlap between clinical contexts is anticipated, both outcome sets will be co-developed and may be combined to form a common output with disease-specific domains. The development process comprises three phases, including definition of outcomes relevant to postoperative ileus and small bowel obstruction from systematic literature reviews and nominal-group stakeholder discussions; online-facilitated Delphi surveys via international networks; and a consensus meeting to ratify the final output. At present, the first stage of this process has been completed.

The current phase of the study aims to collect opinions of diverse stakeholders (including patients, surgeons, nurses, and dietitians) to inform the final outcome set. The opinion of patients living with a stoma is essential to this process to ensure that their opinions/priorities are represented.

The final output will be registered with the COMET initiative. A multi-faceted, quality improvement campaign for reporting gastrointestinal recovery in clinical studies will be launched. Success will be explored via an updated systematic review of outcomes five years later.

Duration of project

12 months from 1 January 2020 to 31 December 2020.


No funding requested