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Clin Chem. 2014 Apr;60(4):651-9. doi: 10.1373/clinchem.2013.218149. Epub 2013 Dec 31.

Publication and reporting of test accuracy studies registered in

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Department of Clinical Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Bioinformatics, and.



Failure to publish and selective reporting are recognized problems in the biomedical literature, but their extent in the field of diagnostic testing is unknown. We aimed to identify nonpublication and discrepancies between registered records and publications among registered test accuracy studies.


We identified studies evaluating a test's accuracy against a reference standard that were registered in between January 2006 and December 2010. We included studies if their completion date was set before October 2011, allowing at least 18 months until publication. We searched PubMed, EMBASE, and Web of Science and contacted investigators for publications.


We included 418 studies, of which 224 (54%) had been published by mid-2013. Among studies that had been completed at least 30 months before our analyses, 45% were published within 30 months after their completion. Publication rates were high in studies registered after study completion (76%) and low for studies with an unknown (rather than completed) study status (36%). After we excluded these 2 categories, study duration was the only characteristic significantly associated with publication, with lower rates in studies lasting up to 1 year (39%) compared to studies of 13-24 months (62%) or longer (67%) (P = 0.01). In the 153 published studies that had been registered before completion, 49 (32%) showed discrepancies between the registry and publication regarding inclusion criteria (n = 19), test/threshold (n = 9), and outcomes (n = 32).


Failure to publish and selective reporting are prevalent in test accuracy studies. Their registration should be further promoted among researchers and journal editors.

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