Background: The aim of this systematic review (SR) was to assess the quality of reporting randomized clinical trials (RCTs) in the field of implant dentistry, its evolution over time and the possible relations between quality items and reported outcomes.
Material and methods: RCTs in implant dentistry were retrieved through electronic and hand searches. Risk of bias in individual studies was assessed focusing on study design, outcome assessment and clinical relevance. Associations between quality items and year of publication of RCTs or reporting of statistically significant outcomes were tested.
Results: Among the 495 originally screened manuscripts published from 1989 to April 2011, 276 RCTs were assessed in this SR; 59% of them were published between 2006 and 2011. RCTs were mainly parallel (65%), with a single centre (83%) and a superiority design (88%). Trials in implant dentistry showed several methodological flaws: only 37% showed a random sequence generation at low risk of bias, 75% did not provide information on allocation concealment, only 12% performed a correct sample size calculation, the examiner was blind solely in 42% of studies where blinding was feasible. In addition, only 21% of RCTs declared operator experience and 31% reported patient-related outcomes. Many quality items improved over time. Allocation concealment at high risk of bias (p = 0.0125), no information on drop-out (p = 0.0318) and lack of CONSORT adherence (p = 0.0333) were associated with statistically significant reported outcomes.
Conclusions: The overall quality of reporting of RCTs in implant dentistry is poor and only partially improved in the last years. Caution is suggested when interpreting these RCTs since risk of bias was associated with higher chance of reporting of statistically significant results.
© 2012 John Wiley & Sons A/S.