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BACKGROUND: As evidence-based medicine assumes increasing importance, there is a need for high-quality reporting of clinical studies. A recent review of clinical platelet (PLT) studies indicated variability in reporting. We undertook a critical analysis of PLT transfusion studies to determine the quality of reporting.

STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: A systematic MEDLINE search for clinical studies of PLT transfusion was performed to identify articles. Relevant observational studies (OBS) were critiqued using the STROBE checklist and randomized controlled clinical trials (RCTs) using the CONSORT checklist. Studies were further evaluated with a PLT-specific checklist developed by the authors. Observations were analyzed descriptively and using Pareto analysis.

RESULTS: A total of 772 articles were identified by the search. Eighty-six articles (23 RCTs and 63 OBS) met eligibility criteria. All RCTs, and a similar number of OBS (24), were randomly selected for analysis. Studies reported the scientific background and rationale, key results, and outcomes. OBS frequently did not consider bias and confounders. RCTs frequently did not explain bias, interim analyses, stopping rules, success of blinding, or weaknesses of multiple analyses. The PLT-specific critique found many studies adequately reported basics of the PLT product, PLT increment, and transfusion reactions. Studies frequently failed to report specific details of PLT compatibility, details of product preparation, and use of other blood products.

CONCLUSION: Recently published articles of clinical PLT transfusion share common strengths and weaknesses. The quality of reporting may be improved by providing guidelines to authors and journal editors that list the essential elements of a well-reported clinical study of PLT transfusion.