PhenX—Establishing a consensus process to select common measures for collaborative research
The PhenX (consensus measures for Phenotypes and eXposures) Toolkit offers well-established, broadly validated measures of phenotypes and exposures relevant to investigators in human genomics, epidemiology, and biomedical research. This methods report describes the infrastructure and processes used to develop the content and features of the Toolkit. The PhenX consensus process is robust, yet flexible, as evidenced by its application to a range of research domains. During the initial phase of PhenX from March 2008 through April 2010, working groups of content experts addressed 21 research domains and selected 295 measures for the Toolkit. The PhenX Steering Committee prioritized and defined the scope of the domains and guided the consensus process with input from liaisons representing the National Institutes of Health. After the 21 domains were completed, another project to add breadth and depth to the Toolkit for substance abuse and addiction (SAA) research served to validate the consensus process. With the support of the SAA Scientific Panel to define the scope for one core and six specialty collections and SAA working groups to select measures, the PhenX project team added 44 measures to the Toolkit in 2012. The PhenX Toolkit, now being used by more than 1,000 researchers, offers a catalog of measures, supporting documentation, and tools for collaborative research. It used a consensus process that can serve as a template for investigators who are considering a similar approach.