Effect of an editorial intervention to improve the completeness of reporting of randomised trials: a randomised controlled trial

David Blanco, Sara Schroter, Adrian Aldcroft, David Moher, Isabelle Boutron, Jamie J Kirkham, Erik Cobo
2020 BMJ Open  
ObjectiveTo evaluate the impact of an editorial intervention to improve completeness of reporting of reports of randomised trials.DesignRandomised controlled trial (RCT).SettingBMJ Open's quality improvement programme.Participants24 manuscripts describing RCTs.InterventionsWe used an R Shiny application to randomise manuscripts (1:1 allocation ratio, blocks of 4) to the intervention (n=12) or control (n=12) group. The intervention was performed by a researcher with expertise in the content of
more » ... e Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials (CONSORT) and consisted of an evaluation of completeness of reporting of eight core CONSORT items using the submitted checklist to locate information, and the production of a report containing specific requests for authors based on the reporting issues found, provided alongside the peer review reports. The control group underwent the usual peer review.OutcomesThe primary outcome is the number of adequately reported items (0–8 scale) in the revised manuscript after the first round of peer review. The main analysis was intention-to-treat (n=24), and we imputed the scores of lost to follow-up manuscripts (rejected after peer review and not resubmitted). The secondary outcome is the proportion of manuscripts where each item was adequately reported. Two blinded reviewers assessed the outcomes independently and in duplicate and solved disagreements by consensus. We also recorded the amount of time to perform the intervention.ResultsManuscripts in the intervention group (mean: 7.01; SD: 1.47) were more completely reported than those in the control group (mean: 5.68; SD: 1.43) (mean difference 1.43, 95% CI 0.31 to 2.58). We observed the main differences in items 6a (outcomes), 9 (allocation concealment mechanism), 11a (blinding) and 17a (outcomes and estimation). The mean time to perform the intervention was 87 (SD 42) min.ConclusionsWe demonstrated the benefit of involving a reporting guideline expert in the editorial process. Improving the completeness of RCTs is essential to enhance their usability.Trial registration numberNCT03751878.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2020-036799 pmid:32430454 pmcid:PMC7239541 fatcat:ntemfncpe5eoxdy4qrf74jdiuq