A systematic review protocol for reporting deficiencies within surgical case series.
Agha R., Fowler AJ., Lee S-Y., Gundogan B., Whitehurst K., Sagoo H., Jeong KJL., Altman DG., Orgill DP.
INTRODUCTION: Case series are an important and common study type in surgical literature. There is evidence that key data are excluded from published case series, and currently no reporting guideline exists for case series. There is, therefore, the potential to change practices and improve the reporting of case series. Reporting guidelines have been shown to be efficacious in raising the bar for reporting quality. We present our protocol for the first stage of guideline development--a systematic review of previously identified deficiencies in how surgical case series are reported. METHODS AND ANALYSIS: Electronic searches will be conducted on MEDLINE, EMBASE, Cochrane Methods Register, Science Citation Index and Conference Proceedings Citation Index, from the start of indexing until 5 November 2014. The electronic search strategy was developed with an information specialist. Two independent researchers will identify articles for inclusion, specifically those that describe reporting deficiencies within surgical case series. Data will be extracted to specifically focus on the deficiencies of reporting. These will be categorised according to their type, and other identified issues will also be presented. Data will be presented with descriptive statistics to determine frequently missing types of data, and the commonest reporting issues tabulated. ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: The authors hope to disseminate the findings as widely as possible, irrespective of results, as these will add to the wider corpora of information on this subject. The systematic review will be published in a peer-reviewed journal and will be presented at a wide range of national and international conferences. Ultimately, this will inform a Delphi process for the development of a surgical case series reporting guideline. PROTOCOL REGISTRATION: CRD42015016145.