Introduction: The quality of presentations at medical conferences is of major importance. The publication rate (PR) following congress presentation is an indicator of the extent and quality of a scientific society's activity. The purpose of this study was to investigate publication rates in the Spine Society of Europe (SSE), compare them with the results for American spine societies, and determine factors affecting publication.
Materials and methods: All 839 abstracts of podium and poster presentations at SSE congresses held in 2000-2003 were investigated. PRs in peer-reviewed journals within a period of 5 years were assessed. Subgroup analyses were performed for different study types. The consistency of abstracts with publications was also analyzed.
Results: The overall PR was 37.8%, with a mean of 17.7 ± 15.7 months between congress and publication and a mean impact factor of 1.8 ± 1.0 at the time of publication. Comparatively high PRs were found for podium presentations versus posters, studies with higher versus lower levels of evidence, experimental versus clinical studies, prospective versus retrospective studies, randomized versus nonrandomized studies, studies reporting significant main results versus those without, and multicenter studies versus single-center studies. Biomechanical studies also achieved high PRs.
Conclusion: The PR was similar to that of NASS (40%) and only slightly inferior to that of SRS (47%) and ISSLS (45%). This shows the high quality of presentations at SSE congresses. The fate of unpublished abstracts is worth further consideration. It is questionable whether it is acceptable to cite abstracts that have not passed a journal's peer-review process and to implement their results in clinical practice.