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Cover of Impact of Contacting Study Authors on Systematic Review Conclusions: Diagnostic Tests for Hepatic Fibrosis

Impact of Contacting Study Authors on Systematic Review Conclusions: Diagnostic Tests for Hepatic Fibrosis

Research White Papers

Investigators: , MD and , MD.

Pacific Northwest Evidence-based Practice Center
Rockville (MD): Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (US); .
Report No.: 14-EHC004-EF

Structured Abstract

Background:

In 2013, the Pacific Northwest Evidence-based Practice Center conducted a systematic review of screening and diagnostic tests for hepatic fibrosis or cirrhosis in patients with chronic hepatitis C viral infection. However, 17 of the 172 included studies reported diagnostic accuracy results that were discordant from 2 × 2 tables. In addition, 60 studies did not report adequate data to construct 2×2 tables or include in the analysis. This study explores the response rate and impact of contacting authors to provide data that were otherwise missing or discordant.

Objectives:

To determine the efficacy and impact of contacting authors to clarify discordant data or obtain missing data for a systematic review on screening and diagnostic tests for hepatic fibrosis or cirrhosis in patients with chronic hepatitis C viral infection.

Methods:

Sixty-six corresponding authors were sent letters requesting additional information or clarification of data from 77 studies that had discrepancies in the data reported or that provided insufficient data to construct 2 × 2 tables. Data received from authors were pooled with data included in the previous review and the diagnostic effect analyzed.

Results:

Of the 66 authors, 45 (68%) were successfully contacted and 28 (42%) provided additional data for 29 studies. All authors who provided data did so by the third written request for information. Authors of more recent studies were significantly more likely to be located and provide data compared to authors of older studies. In general, inclusion of the additional 29 studies had only minor effects on the diagnostic accuracy meta-analyses. However, the additional data resulted in reclassification of the utility of three tests.

Conclusions:

The results suggest that contacting authors to obtain additional data will likely be successful. However, there was no clear trend in the impact of new data on measures of diagnostic accuracy. As a result, it is unclear whether the time-intensive practice of contacting authors is worth the effort. It would be more effective to require authors of studies to provide 2 × 2 tables within the published manuscript for transparency and to facilitate additional analyses.

Prepared for: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services1, Contract No. 290-2012-00014-I. Prepared by: Pacific Northwest Evidence-based Practice Center, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR

Suggested citation:

Selph S, Chou R. Impact of Contacting Study Authors on Systematic Review Conclusions: Diagnostic Tests for Hepatic Fibrosis. Research White Paper (Prepared by the Pacific Northwest Evidence-based Practice Center under Contract No. 290-2012-00014-I). AHRQ Publication No. 14-EHC004-EF. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. April 2014. www.effectivehealthcare.ahrq.gov/reports/final.cfm.

This report is based on research conducted by the Pacific Northwest Evidence-based Practice Center (EPC) under contract to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), Rockville, MD (Contract No. 290-2012-00014-I). The findings and conclusions in this document are those of the authors, who are responsible for its contents; the findings and conclusions do not necessarily represent the views of AHRQ. Therefore, no statement in this report should be construed as an official position of AHRQ or of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The information in this report is intended to help health care decisionmakers—patients and clinicians, health system leaders, and policymakers, among others—make well informed decisions and thereby improve the quality of health care services. This report is not intended to be a substitute for the application of clinical judgment. Anyone who makes decisions concerning the provision of clinical care should consider this report in the same way as any medical reference and in conjunction with all other pertinent information, i.e., in the context of available resources and circumstances presented by individual patients.

This report may be used, in whole or in part, as the basis for development of clinical practice guidelines and other quality enhancement tools, or as a basis for reimbursement and coverage policies. AHRQ or U.S. Department of Health and Human Services endorsement of such derivative products may not be stated or implied.

None of the investigators have any affiliations or financial involvement that conflicts with the material presented in this report.

1

540 Gaither Road, Rockville, MD 20850; www​.ahrq.gov

Bookshelf ID: NBK198806PMID: 24783307

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