A systematic survey of the quality of research reporting in general orthopaedic journals.
Parsons NR., Hiskens R., Price CL., Achten J., Costa ML.
The poor reporting and use of statistical methods in orthopaedic papers has been widely discussed by both clinicians and statisticians. A detailed review of research published in general orthopaedic journals was undertaken to assess the quality of experimental design, statistical analysis and reporting. A representative sample of 100 papers was assessed for compliance to CONSORT and STROBE guidelines and the quality of the statistical reporting was assessed using a validated questionnaire. Overall compliance with CONSORT and STROBE guidelines in our study was 59% and 58% respectively, with very few papers fulfilling all criteria. In 37% of papers patient numbers were inadequately reported; 20% of papers introduced new statistical methods in the 'results' section not previously reported in the 'methods' section, and 23% of papers reported no measurement of error with the main outcome measure. Taken together, these issues indicate a general lack of statistical rigour and are consistent with similar reviews undertaken in a number of other scientific and clinical research disciplines. It is imperative that the orthopaedic research community strives to improve the quality of reporting; a failure to do so could seriously limit the development of future research.