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J Clin Epidemiol. 2006 Jul;59(7):681-4.

Reporting of trials presented in conference abstracts needs to be improved.

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UK Cochrane Centre, Summertown Pavilion, Middle Way, Oxford OX2 7LB, UK.



To assess how trial information reported in conference abstracts differs to their subsequent full publication.


Randomized trials reported at the American Society of Clinical Oncology conference (1992) were identified. CENTRAL and PubMed (December 2002) were searched to identify corresponding full publications. A checklist (based on CONSORT) was used to compare abstracts for 37 trials with their full publication.


Some aspects were well reported. Ninety-five percent of study objectives, 92% of participant eligibility, 100% of trial interventions, and 84% of primary outcomes were the same in both abstract and full publication. Other areas were more discrepant. Forty-six percent reported the same number of participants randomized in the abstract and full publication; only 22% reported the same number analyzed (median number analyzed per trial was 96 for abstracts and 117 for full publications). Eighty-two percent of trials were closed to follow-up in the full publication compared to 19% of abstracts. Lack of information was a major problem in assessing trial quality: no abstracts reported on allocation concealment, 16% reported on blinding and 14% reported intention to treat analysis. These figures were 49, 19, and 46%, respectively, for full publications.


The information given for trials in conference proceedings can be unstable, especially for trials presenting early or preliminary results, and needs to be improved.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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