Objectives: To develop consistent variable names and a common database structure for the data elements in the International Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Data Sets.
Setting: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) Common Data Elements (CDE) Project and The Executive Committee of the International SCI Standards and Data Sets committees (ECSCI).
Methods: The NINDS CDE team creates a variable name for each defined data element in the various International SCI Data Sets. Members of the ECSCI review these in an iterative process to make the variable names logical and consistent across the data sets. Following this process, the working group for the particular data set reviews the variable names, and further revisions and adjustments may be made. In addition, a database structure for each data set is developed allowing data to be stored in a uniform way in databases to promote sharing data from different studies.
Results: The International SCI Data Sets variable names and database specifications will be available through the web sites of the International Spinal Cord Society (http://www.iscos.org.uk), the American Spinal Injury Association (http://www.asia-spinalinjury.org) and the NINDS CDE project web site (http://www.CommonDataElements.ninds.nih.gov).
Conclusion: This process will continue as additional International SCI Data Sets fulfill the requirements of the development and approval process and are ready for implementation.