Background: We investigated whether there had been an improvement in quality of reporting for randomised controlled trials of acupuncture since the publication of the STRICTA and CONSORT statements. We conducted a before-and-after study, comparing ratings for quality of reporting following the publication of both STRICTA and CONSORT recommendations.
Methodology and principal findings: Ninety peer reviewed journal articles reporting the results of acupuncture trials were selected at random from a wider sample frame of 266 papers. Papers published in three distinct time periods (1994-1995, 1999-2000 and 2004-2005) were compared. Assessment criteria were developed directly from CONSORT and STRICTA checklists. Papers were independently assessed for quality of reporting by two assessors, one of whom was blind to information which could have introduced systematic bias (e.g. date of publication). We detected a statistically significant increase in the reporting of CONSORT items for papers published in each time period measured. We did not, however, find a difference between the number of STRICTA items reported in journal articles published before and 3 to 4 years following the introduction of STRICTA recommendations.
Conclusions and significance: The results of this study suggest that general standards of reporting for acupuncture trials have significantly improved since the introduction of the CONSORT statement in 1996, but that quality in reporting details specific to acupuncture interventions has yet to change following the more recent introduction of STRICTA recommendations. Wider targeting and revision of the guidelines is recommended.