How can the EQUATOR Oncology Project help to improve the reporting of randomised controlled trials in oncology?


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Angela MacCarthy1,Shona Kirtley1,Doug Altman1
1University of Oxford

Abstract

Background

The EQUATOR Oncology Project (www.equator-network.org/about-us/equator-oncology-project/) aims to develop resources for authors of oncology research reports, to help ensure their research is reported well, transparently and is therefore reproducible. To guide resource development, we are conducting literature reviews and talking to oncology researchers about which areas of reporting they find difficult when writing up their research, and what resources they would find most helpful.  In the first instance the project is focusing on clinical trials in oncology, to further our understanding of the issues involved in this area we conducted an overview of reviews of trial reporting in oncology.

Method

We searched PubMed and the Cochrane Methodology Database for reviews published 1 January 1996 to 18 May 2015 that examined reporting and methodology quality in randomised controlled trials in the field of oncology. We examined the abstracts of the 1575 identified papers to find reviews that used a CONSORT checklist to assess reporting quality.

Results

We identified 20 reviews that examined oncology trial reporting using CONSORT or a CONSORT extension checklist. They examined reporting over a wide range of oncology research areas and reported diverse findings. Six reviews reported an improvement in some aspects of reporting of trials over time. However, we found that oncology trial reporting was generally inadequate when we looked at 12 CONSORT 2010 checklist items. Even the best reported item, ‘eligibility criteria for participants’ was not consistently reported.

Conclusion

Although some CONSORT checklist items are better reported than others, the overall state of reporting in oncology trials is inadequate. We need overall improvement in oncology trial reporting to allow their findings to be incorporated into systematic reviews and meta-analyses. The EQUATOR Oncology Project’s proposed resource development will meet this need, with the help and input of oncology researchers.