Background: The selection of presentations at orthopedic meetings is an important process. If the peer reviewers do not consistently agree on the quality score, the review process is arbitrary and open to bias. The aim of this study was: (1) to describe the inter-reviewer agreement of a previously designed scoring scheme to rate abstracts submitted for presentation at meetings arranged by the Dutch Orthopedic Association; (2) to test whether the quality of reporting of submitted abstracts increased in the years after the introduction of the scoring scheme; and (3) to examine whether a review process with a larger workload had lower interrater agreement.
Methods: We calculated intraclass correlation coefficients (ICC) to measure the level of agreement among reviewers using the International Society of the Knee (ISK) quality-of-reporting system for abstracts. Acceptance rate and quality of the abstracts are described.
Results: Of 419 abstracts, 229 (55%) were accepted. Inter-reviewer agreement to rate abstracts was substantial (0.68; 95% CI: 0.47-0.83) to almost perfect (0.95; 95% CI: 0.92-0.97) and did not change over the eligible time period. A smaller proportion of abstracts were accepted after 2004. The mean ISK abstract score (with a maximum of 100 points) for accepted abstracts ranged from 60 (95% CI: 58-63) to 64 (95% CI: 62-66). The mean ISK abstract score for rejected abstracts varied from 46 (95% CI: 40-51) to 51 (95% CI: 47-55). Average scores for accepted and rejected abstracts did not change with time. The degree of workload of the reviewers did not influence their level of agreement.
Interpretation: The ISK abstract rating system has an excellent interobserver agreement. Other scientific orthopedic meetings should consider adopting this ISK rating system for further evaluation in a local or international setting.