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Survey of the Reporting Characteristics of Systematic Reviews in Rehabilitation

Date and Location




Saturday 21 September 2013 - 10:30 - 12:00


Presenting author and contact person

Presenting author

Silvia Gianola

Contact person

Silvia Gianola
Lorenzo Moja
Abstract text
Background: Systematic reviews (SRs) have become increasingly important for informing clinical practice; however little is known about the reporting characteristics and the quality of the SRs relevant to practice of rehabilitation health professionals. Objectives: To examine the reporting quality of a representative cross-sectional sample of published SRs on rehabilitation. We specifically focused on the descriptive, reporting and bias-related characteristics. Methods: We searched Medline for aggregative and configurative SRs indexed in 2011 focused on rehabilitation as restoring of functional limitations, written in English. Two reviewers independently screened and selected the SRs and extracted data using a 38-item data collection form derived from PRISMA. The data were analyzed descriptively. Results: We sampled 88 SRs published in 59 journals, with most journals publishing only one SR. Eight were Cochrane reviews (10%). Nearly half (41/88 [47%]) of SRs were focused on musculoskeletal and connective tissue diseases followed from neurological diseases. Over two-thirds of SRs assessed the quality of primary studies (74/88 [84%]). One-third of the studies included a meta-analysis. All Cochrane reviews included only randomized controlled trials (RCT) whereas 45% of non-Cochrane reviews used also other designs. Half of the Cochrane reviews reported a statistically favorable result for the primary outcome, whereas only 11% of non-Cochrane reviews did so. Both non-Cochrane (83%) reviews and Cochrane reviews (100%) assessed dimensions of risk of bias (e.g. allocation concealment). Conclusions: Our sample of SRs in the rehabilitation field shows heterogeneous characteristics and a moderate quality of reporting. Poor control of potential source of bias might be improved if more widely agreed upon evidence-based reporting guidelines will be actively endorsed and adhered to by authors and journals.