Abstracts of randomized controlled trials in pediatric dentistry: reporting quality and spin

Feiyang Guo, Wengwanyue Ye, Danchen Qin, Xiaolin Fang, Fang Hua, Hong He

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Abstracts provide readers a concise and readily accessible information of the trials. However, poor reporting quality and spin (misrepresentation of research findings) can lead to an overestimation in trial validity. This methodological study aimed to assess the reporting quality and spin among randomized controlled trial (RCT) abstracts in pediatric dentistry.

We hand-searched RCTs in five leading pediatric dental journals between 2015 and 2021. Reporting quality in each abstract was assessed using the original 16-item CONSORT for abstracts checklist. Linear regression analyses were performed to identify factors associated with reporting quality. We evaluated the presence and characteristics of spin only in abstracts of parallel-group RCTs with nonsignificant primary outcomes according to pre-determined spin strategies.

One hundred eighty-two abstracts were included in reporting quality evaluation. The mean overall quality score was 4.57 (SD, 0.103; 95% CI, 4.36–4.77; score range, 1–10). Only interventions, objective, and conclusions were adequately reported. Use of flow diagram (P < 0.001) was the only significant factor of higher reporting quality. Of the 51 RCT abstracts included for spin analysis, spin was identified in 40 abstracts (78.4%), among which 23 abstracts (45.1%) had spin in the Results section and 39 in the Conclusions Sect. (76.5%).

The reporting quality of RCT abstracts in pediatric dentistry is suboptimal and the prevalence of spin is high. Joint efforts are needed to improve reporting quality and minimize spin.
Original languageEnglish
Article number263
JournalBMC Medical Research Methodology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 10 Nov 2023


  • Pediatric dentistry
  • Reporting quality
  • Randomized controlled trial,
  • Abstract
  • Misinterpretation


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