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BACKGROUND: To assess the quality of reporting of RCT protocols approved by UK research ethics committees before and after the publication of the Standard Protocol Items: Recommendations for Interventional Trials (SPIRIT) guideline. METHODS: We had access to RCT study protocols that received ethical approval in the UK in 2012 (n=103) and 2016 (n=108). From those, we assessed the adherence to the 33 SPIRIT items (i.e. a total of 64 components of the 33 SPIRIT items). We descriptively analysed the adherence to SPIRIT guidelines as proportion of adequately reported items (median and interquartile range [IQR]) and stratified the results by year of approval and sponsor. RESULTS: The proportion of reported SPIRIT items increased from a median of 64.9% (IQR, 57.6-69.2%) in 2012 to a median of 72.5% (IQR, 65.3-78.3%) in 2016. Industry-sponsored RCTs reported more SPIRIT items in 2012 (median 67.4%; IQR, 64.1-69.4%) compared to non-industry-sponsored trials (median 59.8%; IQR, 46.5-67.7%). This gap between industry- and non-industry-sponsored trials increased in 2016 (industry-sponsored: median 75.6%; IQR, 71.2-79.0% vs non-industry-sponsored: median 65.3%; IQR, 51.6-76.3%). CONCLUSIONS: The adherence to SPIRIT guidelines has improved in the UK from 2012 to 2016 but remains on a modest level, especially for non-industry-sponsored RCTs.

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Meta-research, Randomised controlled trial, Reporting quality, Trial protocol, Clinical Trial Protocols as Topic, Ethics Committees, Research, Guideline Adherence, Humans, United Kingdom