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  • The CONSORT statement: revised recommendations for improving the quality of reports of parallel-group randomized trials.

    3 November 2018

    To comprehend the results of a randomized, controlled trial (RCT), readers must understand its design, conduct, analysis, and interpretation. That goal can be achieved only through complete transparency from authors. Despite several decades of educational efforts, the reporting of RCTs needs improvement. Investigators and editors developed the original CONSORT (Con solidated S tandards o f R eporting T rials) statement to help authors improve reporting by using a checklist and flow diagram. The revised CONSORT statement presented in this paper incorporates new evidence and addresses some criticisms of the original statement. The checklist items pertain to the content of the Title, Abstract, Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion. The revised checklist includes 22 items selected because empirical evidence indicates that not reporting the information is associated with biased estimates of treatment effect or because the information is essential to judge the reliability or relevance of the findings. We intended the flow diagram to depict the passage of participants through an RCT. The revised flow diagram depicts information from four stages of a trial (enrollment, intervention allocation, follow-up, and analysis). The diagram explicitly includes the number of participants, for each intervention group, that are included in the primary data analysis. Inclusion of these numbers allows the reader to judge whether the authors have performed an intention-to-treat analysis. In sum, the CONSORT statement is intended to improve the reporting of an RCT, enabling readers to understand a trial's conduct and to assess the validity of its results.

  • The revised CONSORT statement for reporting randomized trials: explanation and elaboration.

    3 November 2018

    Overwhelming evidence now indicates that the quality of reporting of randomized, controlled trials (RCTs) is less than optimal. Recent methodologic analyses indicate that inadequate reporting and design are associated with biased estimates of treatment effects. Such systematic error is seriously damaging to RCTs, which boast the elimination of systematic error as their primary hallmark. Systematic error in RCTs reflects poor science, and poor science threatens proper ethical standards. A group of scientists and editors developed the CONSORT (Con solidated S tandards o f R eporting T rials) statement to improve the quality of reporting of RCTs. The statement consists of a checklist and flow diagram that authors can use for reporting an RCT. Many leading medical journals and major international editorial groups have adopted the CONSORT statement. The CONSORT statement facilitates critical appraisal and interpretation of RCTs by providing guidance to authors about how to improve the reporting of their trials. This explanatory and elaboration document is intended to enhance the use, understanding, and dissemination of the CONSORT statement. The meaning and rationale for each checklist item are presented. For most items, at least one published example of good reporting and, where possible, references to relevant empirical studies are provided. Several examples of flow diagrams are included. The CONSORT statement, this explanatory and elaboration document, and the associated Web site ( http://www.consort-statement.org ) should be helpful resources to improve reporting of randomized trials. Throughout the text, terms marked with an asterisk are defined at end of text.

  • Better reporting of harms in randomized trials: an extension of the CONSORT statement.

    3 November 2018

    In response to overwhelming evidence and the consequences of poor-quality reporting of randomized, controlled trials (RCTs), many medical journals and editorial groups have now endorsed the CONSORT (Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials) statement, a 22-item checklist and flow diagram. Because CONSORT primarily aimed at improving the quality of reporting of efficacy, only 1 checklist item specifically addressed the reporting of safety. Considerable evidence suggests that reporting of harms-related data from RCTs also needs improvement. Members of the CONSORT Group, including journal editors and scientists, met in Montebello, Quebec, Canada, in May 2003 to address this problem. The result is the following document: the standard CONSORT checklist with 10 new recommendations about reporting harms-related issues, accompanying explanation, and examples to highlight specific aspects of proper reporting. We hope that this document, in conjunction with other CONSORT-related materials (http://www.consort-statement.org), will help authors improve their reporting of harms-related data from RCTs. Better reporting will help readers critically appraise and interpret trial results. Journals can support this goal by revising Instructions to Authors so that they refer authors to this document.

  • Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology (STROBE): explanation and elaboration.

    3 November 2018

    Much medical research is observational. The reporting of observational studies is often of insufficient quality. Poor reporting hampers the assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of a study and the generalizability of its results. Taking into account empirical evidence and theoretical considerations, a group of methodologists, researchers, and editors developed the Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology (STROBE) recommendations to improve the quality of reporting of observational studies. The STROBE Statement consists of a checklist of 22 items, which relate to the title, abstract, introduction, methods, results, and discussion sections of articles. Eighteen items are common to cohort studies, case-control studies, and cross-sectional studies, and 4 are specific to each of the 3 study designs. The STROBE Statement provides guidance to authors about how to improve the reporting of observational studies and facilitates critical appraisal and interpretation of studies by reviewers, journal editors, and readers. This explanatory and elaboration document is intended to enhance the use, understanding, and dissemination of the STROBE Statement. The meaning and rationale for each checklist item are presented. For each item, 1 or several published examples and, where possible, references to relevant empirical studies and methodological literature are provided. Examples of useful flow diagrams are also included. The STROBE Statement, this document, and the associated Web site (www.strobe-statement.org) should be helpful resources to improve reporting of observational research.

  • The Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology (STROBE) statement: guidelines for reporting observational studies.

    3 November 2018

    Much biomedical research is observational. The reporting of such research is often inadequate, which hampers the assessment of its strengths and weaknesses and of a study's generalizability. The Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology (STROBE) Initiative developed recommendations on what should be included in an accurate and complete report of an observational study. We defined the scope of the recommendations to cover 3 main study designs: cohort, case-control, and cross-sectional studies. We convened a 2-day workshop in September 2004, with methodologists, researchers, and journal editors, to draft a checklist of items. This list was subsequently revised during several meetings of the coordinating group and in e-mail discussions with the larger group of STROBE contributors, taking into account empirical evidence and methodological considerations. The workshop and the subsequent iterative process of consultation and revision resulted in a checklist of 22 items (the STROBE Statement) that relate to the title, abstract, introduction, methods, results, and discussion sections of articles. Eighteen items are common to all 3 study designs and 4 are specific for cohort, case-control, or cross-sectional studies. A detailed Explanation and Elaboration document is published separately and is freely available at http://www.annals.org and on the Web sites of PLoS Medicine and Epidemiology. We hope that the STROBE Statement will contribute to improving the quality of reporting of observational studies.

  • Modelling prognostic factors in advanced pancreatic cancer.

    3 November 2018

    Pancreatic cancer is the fifth most common cause of cancer death. Identification of defined patient groups based on a prognostic index may improve the prediction of survival and selection of therapy. Many prognostic factors have been identified often based on retrospective, underpowered studies with unclear analyses. Data from 653 patients were analysed. Continuous variables are often simplified assuming a linear relationship with log hazard or introducing a step function (dichotomising). Misspecification may lead to inappropriate conclusions but has not been previously investigated in pancreatic cancer studies. Models based on standard assumptions were compared with a novel approach using nonlinear fractional polynomial (FP) transformations. The model based on FP-transformed covariates was most appropriate and confirmed five previously reported prognostic factors: albumin, CA 19-9, alkaline phosphatase, LDH and metastases, and identified three additional factors not previously reported: WBC, AST and BUN. The effects of CA 19-9, alkaline phosphatase, AST and BUN may go unrecognised due to simplistic assumptions made in statistical modelling. We advocate a multivariable approach that uses information contained within continuous variables appropriately. The functional form of the relationship between continuous covariates and survival should always be assessed. Our model should aid individual patient risk stratification and the design and analysis of future trials in pancreatic cancer.

  • Visualizing length of survival in time-to-event studies: a complement to Kaplan-Meier plots.

    3 November 2018

    Because of censoring, standard methods of plotting individual survival times are invalid. Therefore, graphic display of time-to-event data usually takes the form of a Kaplan-Meier survival plot. Kaplan-Meier plots, however, make differences between groups seem larger than they really are. To overcome these limitations, we developed a technique for producing scatter plots with survival data and applied it to data from a randomized trial of patients with renal cancer. As of June 21, 2001, 25 of the 347 patients with kidney cancer in the Medical Research Council RE01 randomized treatment trial for whom data were available had been censored, and the remainder had died. Values of the censored survival times were imputed by assuming a log-normal distribution in survival times and by drawing a random sample given that that each patient with censored data survived at least to the point of censoring. The combined original and imputed data were then examined by use of dot plots and scatter plots. In the RE01 trial, median survival of patients treated with interferon was 3.0 months (95% confidence interval = 0.3 to 5.5 months) longer than that in patients treated with medroxyprogesterone acetate. The Kaplan-Meier analysis showed clear separation between treatment groups and between prognostic groups. In contrast, comparisons of individual observed and imputed survival times between groups of patients showed considerable overlap and gave a more realistic idea of the modest between-group differences than Kaplan-Meier comparisons. These graphs of the distribution of survival times for individuals in each study group, which are simple to produce, may usefully complement Kaplan-Meier plots.

  • The importance of allocation concealment and patient blinding in osteoarthritis trials: a meta-epidemiologic study.

    3 November 2018

    OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the association of adequate allocation concealment and patient blinding with estimates of treatment benefits in osteoarthritis trials. METHODS: We performed a meta-epidemiologic study of 16 meta-analyses with 175 trials that compared therapeutic interventions with placebo or nonintervention control in patients with hip or knee osteoarthritis. We calculated effect sizes from the differences in means of pain intensity between groups at the end of followup divided by the pooled SD and compared effect sizes between trials with and trials without adequate methodology. RESULTS: Effect sizes tended to be less beneficial in 46 trials with adequate allocation concealment compared with 112 trials with inadequate or unclear concealment of allocation (difference -0.15; 95% confidence interval [95% CI] -0.31, 0.02). Selection bias associated with inadequate or unclear concealment of allocation was most pronounced in meta-analyses with large estimated treatment benefits (P for interaction < 0.001), meta-analyses with high between-trial heterogeneity (P = 0.009), and meta-analyses of complementary medicine (P = 0.019). Effect sizes tended to be less beneficial in 64 trials with adequate blinding of patients compared with 58 trials without (difference -0.15; 95% CI -0.39, 0.09), but differences were less consistent and disappeared after accounting for allocation concealment. Detection bias associated with a lack of adequate patient blinding was most pronounced for nonpharmacologic interventions (P for interaction < 0.001). CONCLUSION: Results of osteoarthritis trials may be affected by selection and detection bias. Adequate concealment of allocation and attempts to blind patients will minimize these biases.

  • Statistics in medical journals: some recent trends.

    3 November 2018

    I review some areas of medical statistics that have gained prominence over the last 5-10 years: meta-analysis, evidence-based medicine, and cluster randomized trials. I then consider several issues relating to data analysis and interpretation, many relating to the use and misuse of hypothesis testing, drawing on recent reviews of the use of statistics in medical journals. I also consider developments in the reporting of research in medical journals.