Background: Evidence-based public health decision-making depends on high quality and transparent accounts of what interventions are effective, for whom, how and at what cost. Improving the quality of reporting of randomized and non-randomized study designs through the CONSORT and TREND statements has had a marked impact on the quality of study designs. However, public health users of systematic reviews have been concerned with the paucity of synthesized information on context, development and rationale, implementation processes and sustainability factors.
Methods: This paper examines the existing reporting frameworks for research against information sought by users of systematic reviews of public health interventions and suggests additional items that should be considered in future recommendations on the reporting of public health interventions.
Results: Intervention model, theoretical and ethical considerations, study design choice, integrity of intervention/process evaluation, context, differential effects and inequalities and sustainability are often overlooked in reports of public health interventions.
Conclusion: Population health policy makers need synthesized, detailed and high quality a priori accounts of effective interventions in order to make better progress in tackling population morbidities and inequalities. Adding simple criteria to reporting standards will significantly improve the quality and usefulness of published evidence and increase its impact on public health program planning.