Background: The reporting of observational studies in veterinary research presents many challenges that often are not adequately addressed in published reporting guidelines.
Objective: To develop an extension of the STROBE (Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology) statement that addresses unique reporting requirements for observational studies in veterinary medicine related to health, production, welfare, and food safety.
Design: A consensus meeting of experts was organized to develop an extension of the STROBE statement to address observational studies in veterinary medicine with respect to animal health, animal production, animal welfare, and food safety outcomes.
Setting: Consensus meeting May 11-13, 2014 in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.
Participants: Seventeen experts from North America, Europe, and Australia attended the meeting. The experts were epidemiologists and biostatisticians, many of whom hold or have held editorial positions with relevant journals.
Methods: Prior to the meeting, 19 experts completed a survey about whether they felt any of the 22 items of the STROBE statement should be modified and if items should be added to address unique issues related to observational studies in animal species with health, production, welfare, or food safety outcomes. At the meeting, the participants were provided with the survey responses and relevant literature concerning the reporting of veterinary observational studies. During the meeting, each STROBE item was discussed to determine whether or not re-wording was recommended, and whether additions were warranted. Anonymous voting was used to determine whether there was consensus for each item change or addition.
Results: The consensus was that six items needed no modifications or additions. Modifications or additions were made to the STROBE items numbered: 1 (title and abstract), 3 (objectives), 5 (setting), 6 (participants), 7 (variables), 8 (data sources/measurement), 9 (bias), 10 (study size), 12 (statistical methods), 13 (participants), 14 (descriptive data), 15 (outcome data), 16 (main results), 17 (other analyses), 19 (limitations), and 22 (funding).
Limitation: Published literature was not always available to support modification to, or inclusion of, an item.
Conclusion: The methods and processes used in the development of this statement were similar to those used for other extensions of the STROBE statement. The use of this extension to the STROBE statement should improve the reporting of observational studies in veterinary research related to animal health, production, welfare, or food safety outcomes by recognizing the unique features of observational studies involving food-producing and companion animals, products of animal origin, aquaculture, and wildlife.
Keywords: Animal health; Animal production; Animal welfare; Food safety; Observational studies; Reporting guidelines.
Copyright © 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.