Systematic reviews and meta-analysis that are based on Individual Participant Data (IPD) are often referred to as a 'gold standard'. However, they are usually more resource-intensive than a traditional approach based on aggregate data (AD) extracted from publications or made available from authors.
The advantages and disadvantages of the IPD approach have been discussed extensively in the literature. In many cases the decision about whether to collect IPD can be straightforward. For example, if suitable AD are not available in the trial publications, some data will be needed from the original researchers if the trial is to be included in any meta-analyses. However, in some cases it can be difficult for a researcher, or research funder, to decide whether the extra investment of time and money will be worthwhile. Further guidance would be helpful to assist with this decision making.
To provide a framework for researchers, and research funders, to help decide whether collecting IPD would be worthwhile.
Existing empirical evidence comparing IPD and AD, literature describing the advantages and disadvantages of IPD, and the expertise of the Cochrane IPD Meta-analysis Methods Group will be used to develop an IPD decision framework.
The framework will be described and made available at the Colloquium.
The framework will help researchers and funders determine when IPD is likely to be most beneficial. This could avoid resources being wasted on unnecessary IPD reviews, help to achieve the maximum potential of IPD, and help to prioritise research projects that would benefit most from IPD.