Common data elements are standardized/predefined, shared units of information (terms or concepts) used across data sets in clinical research or information systems. Each data element defines the attributes of an item such as the name, format, allowable values, and relationships to other elements 1.
Development and use of common data elements helps improve data quality, minimize data heterogeneity, and allow aggregation of data. They allow data to be compared, contrasted and combined across studies, which in turn lays the groundwork for performing systematic review and meta-analysis. Research findings can then be generalized with respect to different research institutions, diverse populations, different regions, and interventions.