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Selective reporting: a proxy or a more direct indicator of our confidence in the summary estimates?

Date and Location




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


Presenting author and contact person

Presenting author

Anne W.S. Rutjes

Contact person

Anne W.S. Rutjes
Robin Christensen
Vivian Welch
Abstract text
Background: The Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions advises to judge the risk of bias potentially introduced by selective reporting of outcome data on the trial level. From a `Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation` (GRADE) perspective, a judgment on the outcome level would however more directly inform the confidence we have in the summary estimate of an outcome, together with the other (risk of bias) domains to be considered. Objectives: To summarize and discuss applied methods to judge and handle risk of bias (RoB) due to selective reporting in Cochrane Reviews. To generate an informed discussion how future Cochrane Reviews should handle this RoB item, inviting stake-holders to express their preferences. Methods: Reviewing the reviews published in the past 5 years by authors from the Cochrane Musculoskeletal Group and Cochrane Peripheral Vascular Diseases Group. Extraction items include definitions used to judge the RoB by selective reporting, the frequency of scoring low, high or unclear RoB due to selective reporting, and the handling of this item in the Summary of Finding Tables (SoF). The different definitions and approaches will be tabulated and discussed. Informed by the results, templates will be constructed from different perspectives of assessing RoB for selective reporting at the trial versus the outcome level, while demonstrating how this item could be considered in future systematic reviews. The summary of our review and the constructed templates, including SoF tables, will then be circulated to consumers, Cochrane reviewers, experts from the bias methods group and the GRADE working group asking them for feedback and asking them to indicate which would be the preferred method. Results and Conclusions: Will be presented at the colloquium.