Reporting quality of randomized controlled trial abstracts: survey of leading general dental journals.

Fang Hua, Lijia Deng, Chung How Kau, Han Jiang, Hong He, Tanya Walsh

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BACKGROUND: The authors conducted a study to assess the reporting quality of randomized controlled trial (RCT) abstracts published in leading general dental journals, investigate any improvement after the release of the Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials (CONSORT) for Abstracts guidelines, and identify factors associated with better reporting quality. METHODS: The authors searched PubMed for RCTs published in 10 leading general dental journals during the periods from 2005 to 2007 (pre-CONSORT period) and 2010 to 2012 (post-CONSORT period). The authors evaluated and scored the reporting quality of included abstracts by using the original 16-item CONSORT for Abstracts checklist. The authors used risk ratios and the t test to compare the adequate reporting rate of each item and the overall quality in the 2 periods. The authors used univariate and multivariate regressions to identify predictors of better reporting quality. RESULTS: The authors included and evaluated 276 RCT abstracts. Investigators reported significantly more checklist items during the post-CONSORT period (mean [standard deviation {SD}], 4.53 [1.69]) than during the pre-CONSORT period (mean [SD], 3.87 [1.10]; mean difference, -0.66 [95% confidence interval, -0.99 to -0.33]; P <.001). Investigators reported 3 items-interventions, objective, and conclusions-adequately in most of the abstracts (> 80%). In contrast, the authors saw sufficient reporting of randomization, recruitment, outcome in the results section, and funding in none of the pre-CONSORT abstracts and less than 2% of the post-CONSORT abstracts. On the basis of the multivariate analysis, a higher impact factor (P <.001) and a publication date in the post-CONSORT period (P = .003) were associated significantly with higher reporting quality. CONCLUSIONS: The reporting quality of RCT abstracts from leading general dental journals has improved significantly, but there is still room for improvement. PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS: Joint efforts by authors, reviewers, journal editors, and other stakeholders to improve the reporting of dental RCT abstracts are needed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)669-678
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American Dental Association (1939)
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2015


  • Randomized controlled trials
  • abstracts
  • data reporting
  • dentistry
  • research design


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