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Open Access Research

PROSPERO at one year: an evaluation of its utility

Alison Booth1*, Mike Clarke2, Gordon Dooley3, Davina Ghersi4, David Moher56, Mark Petticrew7 and Lesley Stewart1

Author Affiliations

1 Centre for Reviews and Dissemination, University of York, Alcuin B Block, Heslington, York, YO10 5DD, UK

2 Centre for Public Health, Institute of Clinical Sciences, Block B, Queen’s University Belfast, Royal Victoria Hospital, Grosvenor Road, Belfast, BT12 6BA, UK

3 Metaxis Ltd, Elmbank Offices, Elmbank Court, Main Road, Curbridge, Oxford, OX29 7NT, UK

4 Research Translation Branch, National Health & Medical Research Council, 16 Marcus Clarke Street, Canberra City, ACT 2600, Australia

5 Department of Epidemiology, Clinical Epidemiology Program, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, 725 Parkdale Avenue Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, K1Y 4E9, Canada

6 Community Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa, 451 Smyth Road, Ottawa, ON, K1H 8M5, Canada

7 Department of Social and Environmental Health Research, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London, WC1E 7HT, UK

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Systematic Reviews 2013, 2:4  doi:10.1186/2046-4053-2-4

Published: 15 January 2013

Abstract

Background

PROSPERO, an international prospective register of systematic review protocols in health and social care, was launched in February 2011. After one year of operation we describe access and use, explore user experience and identify areas for future improvement.

Methods

We collated administrative data and web statistics and conducted an online survey of users’ experiences.

Results

On 21 February 2012, there were 1,076 registered users and 359 registration records published on PROSPERO. The database usage statistics demonstrate the international interest in PROSPERO with high access around the clock and around the world. Based on 232 responses from PROSPERO users (response rate 22%), almost all respondents found joining and navigation was easy or very easy (99%); turn round time was good or excellent (96%); and supporting materials provided were helpful or very helpful (80%). The registration fields were found by 80% to be relevant to their review; 99% rated their overall experience of registering with PROSPERO as good or excellent. Most respondents (81%) had a written protocol before completing the registration form and 19% did not. The majority, 136 (79%), indicated they completed the registration form in 60 minutes or less. Of those who expressed an opinion, 167 (87%) considered the time taken to be about right.

Conclusions

The first year of PROSPERO has shown that registration of systematic review protocols is feasible and not overly burdensome for those registering their reviews. The evaluation has demonstrated that, on the whole, survey respondents are satisfied and the system allows registration of protocol details in a straightforward and acceptable way. The findings have prompted some changes to improve user experience and identified some issues for future consideration.

Keywords:
Systematic review protocol; Register; Prospero; Evaluation