Quality of reporting of complex healthcare interventions and applicability of the CReDECI list - a survey of publications indexed in PubMed
1 School of Nursing Science, Faculty of Health, Witten/Herdecke University, Stockumer Strasse 12, 58453, Witten, Germany
2 Institute of Health and Nursing Science, Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg, Magdeburger Strasse 8, 06112, Halle/Saale, Germany
BMC Medical Research Methodology 2013, 13:125 doi:10.1186/1471-2288-13-125Published: 19 October 2013
The development and evaluation of complex interventions in healthcare has obtained increased awareness. The Medical Research Council’s (MRC) framework for the development and evaluation of complex interventions and its update offers guidance for researchers covering the phases development, feasibility/piloting, and evaluation. Comprehensive reporting of complex interventions enhances transparency and is essential for researchers and policy-makers. Recently, a set of 16 criteria for reporting complex interventions in healthcare (CReDECI) was published. The aim of this study is to evaluate the reporting quality in publications of complex interventions adhering to either the first or the updated MRC framework, and to evaluate the applicability of CReDECI.
A systematic PubMed search was conducted. Two reviewers independently checked titles and abstracts for inclusion. Trials on complex interventions adhering to the MRC framework and including an evaluation study in English and German were included. For all included trials and for all publications which reported on phases prior to the evaluation study, related publications were identified via forward citation tracking. The quality of reporting was assessed independently by two reviewers using CReDECI. Inter-rater agreement and time needed to complete the assessment were determined.
Twenty-six publications on eight trials were included. The number of publications per trial ranged from 1 to 6 (mean 3.25). The trials demonstrate a good reporting quality for the criteria referring to the development and feasibility/piloting. For the criteria addressing the introduction of the intervention and the evaluation, quality of reporting varied widely. Two trials fulfilled 7 and 8 items respectively, five trials fulfilled one to five items and one trial offered no information on any item. The mean number of items with differing ratings per trial was two. The time needed to rate a trial ranged from 30 to 90 minutes, depending on the number of publications.
Adherence to the MRC framework seems to have a positive impact on the reporting quality on the development and piloting of complex interventions. Reporting on the evaluation could be improved. CReDECI is a practical instrument to check the reporting quality of complex interventions and could be used alongside design-specific reporting guidelines.