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Open Access Research article

Methodological reporting of randomized controlled trials in major hepato-gastroenterology journals in 2008 and 1998: a comparative study

Ji-Lin Wang, Tian-Tian Sun, Yan-Wei Lin, Rong Lu and Jing-Yuan Fang*

Author Affiliations

Department of Gastroenterology, Shanghai Jiao-Tong University School of Medicine Ren-Ji Hospital, Shanghai Institute of Digestive Disease. 145 Middle Shandong Road, Shanghai, 200001, China

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BMC Medical Research Methodology 2011, 11:110  doi:10.1186/1471-2288-11-110

Published: 30 July 2011



It was still unclear whether the methodological reporting quality of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in major hepato-gastroenterology journals improved after the Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials (CONSORT) Statement was revised in 2001.


RCTs in five major hepato-gastroenterology journals published in 1998 or 2008 were retrieved from MEDLINE using a high sensitivity search method and their reporting quality of methodological details were evaluated based on the CONSORT Statement and Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of interventions. Changes of the methodological reporting quality between 2008 and 1998 were calculated by risk ratios with 95% confidence intervals.


A total of 107 RCTs published in 2008 and 99 RCTs published in 1998 were found. Compared to those in 1998, the proportion of RCTs that reported sequence generation (RR, 5.70; 95%CI 3.11-10.42), allocation concealment (RR, 4.08; 95%CI 2.25-7.39), sample size calculation (RR, 3.83; 95%CI 2.10-6.98), incomplete outecome data addressed (RR, 1.81; 95%CI, 1.03-3.17), intention-to-treat analyses (RR, 3.04; 95%CI 1.72-5.39) increased in 2008. Blinding and intent-to-treat analysis were reported better in multi-center trials than in single-center trials. The reporting of allocation concealment and blinding were better in industry-sponsored trials than in public-funded trials. Compared with historical studies, the methodological reporting quality improved with time.


Although the reporting of several important methodological aspects improved in 2008 compared with those published in 1998, which may indicate the researchers had increased awareness of and compliance with the revised CONSORT statement, some items were still reported badly. There is much room for future improvement.