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Reporting, dealing with, and judging risk of bias associated with missing participant data in systematic reviews: a methodological survey

Date and Location

Session: 

O1.19.2

Date

Friday 20 September 2013 - 15:30 - 17:00

Location

Presenting author and contact person

Presenting author

Elie Akl

Contact person

Elie Akl
Abstract text
Background: When conducting a meta-analysis, systematic review authors need to deal with trials reporting missing participant data including an assessment of the risk of bias associated with missing participant data in the body of evidence. Objectives: To describe how authors of systematic reviews are reporting, dealing with, and judging the risk of bias associated with missing data for dichotomous outcome. Methods: We searched Medline and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews for systematic reviews of randomized controlled trials published in 2010 and reporting a meta-analysis of dichotomous outcome. We randomly selected 101 Cochrane systematic reviews and 101 non-Cochrane systematic reviews. Teams of two reviewers selected eligible studies studies and abstracted data independently and in duplicate using standardized, piloted forms with accompanying written instructions. The Cochrane Collaboration Methods Innovation Fund funded this study. Results: Of the 202 systematic reviews, 187 (93%) reported a standard meta-analysis, 166 (82%) addressed a medical topic, 130 (64%) assessed pharmacological interventions; they included a median of 5 trials (IQR 2 - 8). The table shows the percentage of systematic reviews that reported, dealt with, and judged the risk of bias associated with participant with missing data for dichotomous outcome. In general, Cochrane reviews performed poorly (approximately 50% or less for all key criteria other than judging the risk of bias associated with missing participant data) and non-Cochrane reviews very poorly (20% or less for all key criteria with the exception of 52% for judging risk of bias associated with missing participant data). Conclusions: Both Cochrane and - particularly - non-Cochrane reviews need to do far better in attending to issues of reporting and handling missing participant data.
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