Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
. 2019 Jun 20;43(10):2371-2378.
doi: 10.1007/s00268-019-05064-1. Online ahead of print.

Reporting Quality of Journal Abstracts for Surgical Randomized Controlled Trials Before and After the Implementation of the CONSORT Extension for Abstracts

Free PMC article

Reporting Quality of Journal Abstracts for Surgical Randomized Controlled Trials Before and After the Implementation of the CONSORT Extension for Abstracts

Benjamin Speich et al. World J Surg. .
Free PMC article


Background: Adequate reporting is crucial in full-text publications but even more so in abstracts because they are the most frequently read part of a publication. In 2008, an extension for abstracts of the Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials (CONSORT-A) statement was published, defining which items should be reported in abstracts of randomized controlled trials (RCTs). Therefore, we compared the adherence of RCT abstracts to CONSORT-A before and after the publication of CONSORT-A.

Methods: RCTs published in the five surgical journals with the highest impact factor were identified through PubMed for 2005-2007 and 2014-2016. Adherence to 15 CONSORT-A items and two additional items for abstracts of non-pharmacological trials was assessed in duplicate. We compared the overall adherence to CONSORT-A between the two time periods using an unpaired t test and explored adherence to specific items.

Results: A total of 192 and 164 surgical RCT abstracts were assessed (2005-2007 and 2014-2016, respectively). In the pre-CONSORT-A phase, the mean score of adequately reported items was 6.14 (95% confidence interval [CI] 5.90-6.38) and 8.11 in the post-CONSORT-A phase (95% CI 7.83-8.39; mean difference 1.97, 95% CI 1.60-2.34; p < 0.0001). The comparison of individual items indicated a significant improvement in 9 of the 15 items. The three least reported items in the post-CONSORT-A phase were randomization (2.4%), blinding (13.4%), and funding (0.0%). Specific items for non-pharmacological trials were rarely reported (approximately 10%).

Conclusion: The reporting in abstracts of surgical RCTs has improved after the implementation of CONSORT-A. More importantly, there is still ample room for improvement.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


Fig. 1
Fig. 1
Flow chart
Fig. 2
Fig. 2
Mean score of adequate reporting by year in journal abstracts of surgical randomized controlled trials according to the CONSORT extension for abstracts. CI, confidence interval

Similar articles

See all similar articles

Cited by 1 article


    1. Duley L, Antman K, Arena J, et al. Specific barriers to the conduct of randomized trials. Clin Trials. 2008;5:40–48. doi: 10.1177/1740774507087704. - DOI - PubMed
    1. Collins R, MacMahon S. Reliable assessment of the effects of treatment on mortality and major morbidity, I: clinical trials. Lancet. 2001;357:373–380. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(00)03651-5. - DOI - PubMed
    1. Chalmers I. Unbiased, relevant, and reliable assessments in health care: important progress during the past century, but plenty of scope for doing better. BMJ. 1998;317:1167–1168. doi: 10.1136/bmj.317.7167.1167. - DOI - PMC - PubMed
    1. Gray R, Sullivan M, Altman DG, et al. Adherence of trials of operative intervention to the CONSORT statement extension for non-pharmacological treatments: a comparative before and after study. Ann R Coll Surg Engl. 2012;94:388–394. doi: 10.1308/003588412X13171221592339. - DOI - PMC - PubMed
    1. Chan AW, Hrobjartsson A, Haahr MT, et al. Empirical evidence for selective reporting of outcomes in randomized trials: comparison of protocols to published articles. JAMA. 2004;291:2457–2465. doi: 10.1001/jama.291.20.2457. - DOI - PubMed

LinkOut - more resources