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Assessment of the quality of reporting of randomized clinical trials in paediatric dentistry journals


Susan Parekh, Unit of Paediatric Dentistry, UCL Eastman Dental Institute, London, UK. E-mail:


Introduction.  Reporting of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) should be of high quality to support the conclusions reached by the authors. Poor-quality reporting has been associated with an overestimation in intervention efficacy. Within the field of paediatric dentistry, no study has assessed the quality of reporting.

Objective.  The aim of this study was to assess published RCTs in paediatric dental journals between 1985 and 2006 for: (i) whether quality of reporting allows readers to assess the validity of trials; and (ii) whether quality of reporting has improved since the introduction of the Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials (CONSORT) guidelines.

Methods.  Hand search of the main paediatric dentistry journals; inclusion criteria were: the trial was performed on children, and RCT. CONSORT guidelines were made into an operational checklist. Trials published between 1985 and 1997, and between 1998 and 2006 were compared to determine any improvement since the publication of the CONSORT guidelines.

Results.  One hundred and seventy-three of 5635 articles met the inclusion criteria. Reporting quality was poor overall and showed heterogeneity. It had improved slightly since the publication of CONSORT. Few trials were reported adequately.

Conclusion.  The quality of reporting of clinical trials is poor, and often not adequate to allow readers to assess trial validity. Overall quality of reporting has not substantially improved since the publication of CONSORT.