Quality of reporting randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in the nursing literature: application of the consolidated standards of reporting trials (CONSORT)

Nurs Outlook. 2008 Jan-Feb;56(1):31-37. doi: 10.1016/j.outlook.2007.09.002.


In the era of evidence-based practice (EBP), Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs) may provide the best evidence of the efficacy of nursing interventions and yet the quality of RCT reporting in nursing literature has not been evaluated. The purposes of this study were to apply the Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials (CONSORT) statement to published reports of nursing science, examine how adequately the published reports adhere to the statement, and examine the effect of the adoption of CONSORT on the quality of the RCT published reports. One hundred RCTs from 2002-2005 were identified from 4 nursing journals. Articles were randomly assigned to 4 reviewers and the quality of the published reports was evaluated using a modified CONSORT checklist. There was no difference between the 4 journals in the quality of the published reports of RCTs based on the modified CONSORT checklist employed (F = 1.27, P =.29). The quality of reporting of RCTs improved significantly in the only journal, Nursing Research, to adopt the CONSORT statement during the study period (t =-2.70, P =.01). Adoption of CONSORT is recommended as it may lead to an overall improvement in quality of reporting of RCTs in nursing journals. The profession may also wish to explore the use or development of standards similar to CONSORT but ones more appropriate for the types of research typical of that published by nurse scientists.

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Bibliometrics
  • Humans
  • Nursing Research / standards*
  • Periodicals as Topic / standards*
  • Publishing / standards*
  • Quality Control
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic / standards*