Advertisement

Reporting guidelines of health research studies are frequently used inappropriately

  • Lisa Caulley
    Affiliations
    Department of Epidemiology, Erasmus MC, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

    Center for Journalology, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Ottawa, Canada
    Search for articles by this author
  • Ferrán Catalá-López
    Affiliations
    Knowledge Synthesis Group, Clinical Epidemiology Program, The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Ottawa, Canada

    Department of Health Planning and Economics, National School of Public Health, Institute of Health Carlos III, Madrid, Spain

    Department of Medicine, University of Valencia/INCLIVA Health Research Institute and CIBERSAM, Valencia, Spain
    Search for articles by this author
  • Jonathan Whelan
    Affiliations
    Department of Undergraduate Medical Education, University of Ottawa, Faculty of Medicine, Ottawa, Canada
    Search for articles by this author
  • Michel Khoury
    Affiliations
    Department of Undergraduate Medical Education, University of Ottawa, Faculty of Medicine, Ottawa, Canada
    Search for articles by this author
  • Jennifer Ferraro
    Affiliations
    Department of Undergraduate Medical Education, University of Ottawa, Faculty of Medicine, Ottawa, Canada
    Search for articles by this author
  • Wei Cheng
    Affiliations
    Knowledge Synthesis Group, Clinical Epidemiology Program, The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Ottawa, Canada
    Search for articles by this author
  • Don Husereau
    Affiliations
    Institute of Health Economics, Edmonton, Canada

    Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada
    Search for articles by this author
  • Author Footnotes
    † Authored posthumously.
    Douglas G. Altman
    Footnotes
    † Authored posthumously.
    Affiliations
    Centre for Statistics in Medicine, Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
    Search for articles by this author
  • David Moher
    Correspondence
    Corresponding author. Ottawa Methods Centre, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute The Ottawa Hospital, General Campus, Centre for Practice Changing Research Building, 501 Smyth Road, PO BOX 201B, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K1H 8L6. Tel.: 613-737-8899 x79424.
    Affiliations
    Centre for Journalology and Canadian EQUATOR Centre, Clinical Epidemiology Program, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Ottawa, Canada
    Search for articles by this author
  • Author Footnotes
    † Authored posthumously.

      Highlights

      • Appropriate use of the reporting guidelines was observed in only 39% of articles.
      • Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials was used appropriately in the majority (64%) of the clinical trials.
      • Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses was used inappropriately most commonly (72%).

      Abstract

      Objectives

      Appropriate use of reporting guidelines of health research ensures that articles present readers with a consistent representation of study relevance, methodology, and results. This study evaluated the use of major reporting guidelines.

      Study Design and Setting

      A cross-sectional analysis of health research articles citing four major reporting guidelines indexed in the Web of Science Core Collection (up to June 24, 2018). Two independent reviews were performed in a random sample of 200 articles, including clinical trials (N = 50), economic evaluations (N = 50), systematic reviews (N = 50), and animal research studies (N = 50). The use of reporting guidelines to guide the reporting of research studies was considered appropriate. Inappropriate uses included the use of the reporting guidelines as a tool to assess the methodological quality of studies or as a guideline on how to design and conduct the studies.

      Results

      Across all selected reporting guidelines, appropriate use of reporting guidelines was observed in only 39% (95% CI: 32-46%; 78/200) of articles. By contrast, inappropriate use was observed in 41% (95% CI: 34-48%; 82/200), and unclear/other use was observed in 20% (95% CI: 15-26%; 40/200).

      Conclusions

      Reporting guidelines of health research studies are frequently used inappropriately. Authors may require further education around appropriate use of the reporting guidelines in research reporting.

      Keywords

      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Purchase one-time access:

      Academic & Personal: 24 hour online accessCorporate R&D Professionals: 24 hour online access
      One-time access price info
      • For academic or personal research use, select 'Academic and Personal'
      • For corporate R&D use, select 'Corporate R&D Professionals'

      Subscribe:

      Subscribe to Journal of Clinical Epidemiology
      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect

      References

        • Turner L.
        • Shamseer L.
        • Altman D.G.
        • Weeks L.
        • Peters J.
        • Kober T.
        • et al.
        Consolidated standards of reporting trials (CONSORT) and the completeness of reporting of randomised controlled trials (RCTs) published in medical journals.
        Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012; 11: MR000030
        • Devereaux P.J.
        • Manns B.J.
        • Ghali W.A.
        • Quan H.
        • Guyatt G.H.
        The reporting of methodological factors in randomized controlled trials and the association with a journal policy to promote adherence to the Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials (CONSORT) checklist.
        Control Clin Trials. 2002; 23: 380-388
        • Piggott M.
        • McGee H.
        • Feuer D.
        Has CONSORT improved the reporting of randomized controlled trials in the palliative care literature? A systematic review.
        Palliat Med. 2004; 18: 32-38
        • Moher D.
        • Jones A.
        • Lepage L.
        Use of the CONSORT statement and quality of reports of randomized trials: a comparative before-and-after evaluation.
        JAMA. 2001; 285: 1992-1995
        • Plint A.C.
        • Moher D.
        • Morrison A.
        • Schulz K.
        • Altman D.G.
        • Hill C.
        • et al.
        Does the CONSORT checklist improve the quality of reports of randomised controlled trials? A systematic review.
        Med J Aust. 2006; 185: 263-267
        • Moher D.
        • Altman D.
        • Schulz K.
        • Simera I.
        • Wager E.
        Guidelines for Reporting Health Research A User’’s Manual.
        Wiley, Hoboken2014: 347
        • Altman D.G.
        • Moher D.
        Importance of transparent reporting of health research.
        in: Moher D. Altman D.G. schulz K.F. Simera I. Wager E. Guidelines for reporting health research: A user’s manual. Wiley, Hoboken2014: 3-13
        • Cobo E.
        • Cortés J.
        • Ribera J.M.
        • Cardellach F.
        • Selva-O’Callaghan A.
        • Kostov B.
        • et al.
        Effect of using reporting guidelines during peer review on quality of final manuscripts submitted to a biomedical journal: masked randomised trial.
        BMJ. 2011; 343
        • Schulz K.F.
        • Altman D.G.
        • Moher D.
        CONSORT 2010 statement: updated guidelines for reporting parallel group randomised trials.
        BMJ. 2010; 340: c332
        • von Elm E.
        • Altman D.G.
        • Egger M.
        • Pocock S.J.
        • Gotzsche P.C.
        • Vandenbroucke J.P.
        The Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology (STROBE) statement: guidelines for reporting observational studies.
        Lancet. 2007; 370: 1453-1457
        • Moher D.
        • Liberati A.
        • Tetzlaff J.
        • Altman D.G.
        Preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses: the PRISMA statement.
        BMJ. 2009; 339: b2535
        • Kilkenny C.
        • Browne W.J.
        • Cuthill I.C.
        • Emerson M.
        • Altman D.G.
        Improving bioscience research reporting: the ARRIVE guidelines for reporting animal research.
        J Pharmacol Pharmacother. 2010; 1: 94-99
        • Husereau D.
        • Drummond M.
        • Petrou S.
        • Carswell C.
        • Carswell D.
        • Greenberg D.
        • et al.
        Consolidated health economic evaluation reporting standards (CHEERS)--explanation and elaboration: a report of the ISPOR health economic evaluation publication guidelines good reporting practices task force.
        Value Health. 2013; 16: 231-250
        • da Costa B.R.
        • Cevallos M.
        • Altman D.G.
        • Rutjes A.W.
        • Egger M.
        Uses and misuses of the STROBE statement: bibliographic study.
        BMJ Open. 2011; 1: e000048https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2010-000048
        • Moher D.
        • Ocampo M.
        • Altman D.G.
        • Schulz K.F.
        • Moher S.
        Citing the CONSORT Statement and Explanation and Elaboration Paper: What’s it all About? 6th International Congress on Peer Review and.
        Biomedical Publication, Vancouver, Canada2009
        • Hulley S.B.
        Designing clinical research.
        4th ed. Wolters Kluwer/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Philadelphia2013: 378 ([ill. cm])
        • Hopewell S.
        • Boutron I.
        • Altman D.G.
        • Barbour G.
        • Moher D.
        • Montori V.
        • et al.
        Impact of a web-based tool (WebCONSORT) to improve the reporting of randomised trials: results of a randomised controlled trial.
        BMC Med. 2016; 14: 199
        • Barnes C.
        • Boutron I.
        • Giraudeau B.
        • Porcher R.
        • Altman D.G.
        • Ravaud P.
        Impact of an online writing aid tool for writing a randomized trial report: the COBWEB (Consort-based WEB tool) randomized controlled trial.
        BMC Med. 2015; 13: 221
        • Golub R.M.
        • Fontanarosa P.B.
        Researchers, readers, and reporting guidelines: writing between the lines.
        JAMA. 2015; 313: 1625-1626
        • Galica J.
        • Chee-a-tow A.
        • Gupta S.
        • Jaiswal A.
        • Monsour A.
        • Tricco A.C.
        • et al.
        Learning best-practices in journalology: course description and attendee insights into the inaugural EQUATOR Canada Publication School.
        BMC Proc. 2018; 12: 18
        • Lang S.
        • Kleijnen J.
        Quality assessment tools for observational studies: lack of consensus.
        Int J Evid Based Healthc. 2010; 8: 247