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We aimed to (1) identify and classify spin (i.e., a description that overstates efficacy and/or understates harm) in systematic reviews and (2) rank spin in abstracts of systematic reviews according to their severity (i.e., the likelihood of distorting readers' interpretation of the results).First, we used a four-phase consensus process to develop a classification of different types of spin. Second, we ranked the types of spin in abstracts according to their severity using a Q-sort survey with members of the Cochrane Collaboration.We identified 39 types of spin, 28 from the main text and 21 from the abstract; 13 were specific to the systematic review design. Spin was classified into three categories: (1) misleading reporting, (2) misleading interpretation, and (3) inappropriate extrapolation. Spin ranked as the most severe by the 122 people who participated in the survey were (1) recommendations for clinical practice not supported by findings in the conclusion, (2) misleading title, and (3) selective reporting.This study allowed for identifying spin that is likely to distort interpretation. Our classification could help authors, editors, and reviewers avoid spin in reports of systematic reviews.

Type

Journal

Journal of clinical epidemiology

Publication Date

07/2016

Volume

75

Pages

56 - 65

Addresses

Centre de Recherche Épidémiologie et Statistique Sorbonne Paris Cité (CRESS-UMR1153), Inserm/Université Paris Descartes, 1 place du Parvis Notre Dame, Paris 75004, France; Centre d'Épidémiologie Clinique, AP-HP (Assistance Publique des Hôpitaux de Paris), Hôpital Hôtel Dieu, 1 place du Parvis Notre Dame, Paris, France; French Cochrane Center, Paris Descartes University, Sorbonne Paris Cité, Faculté de Médecine, 1 place du Parvis Notre Dame, Paris 75004, France. Electronic address: amelie.yavchitz@aphp.fr.