Reporting of trials presented in conference abstracts needs to be improved.
Hopewell S., Clarke M., Askie L.
OBJECTIVES: To assess how trial information reported in conference abstracts differs to their subsequent full publication. METHODS: Randomized trials reported at the American Society of Clinical Oncology conference (1992) were identified. CENTRAL and PubMed (December 2002) were searched to identify corresponding full publications. A checklist (based on CONSORT) was used to compare abstracts for 37 trials with their full publication. RESULTS: Some aspects were well reported. Ninety-five percent of study objectives, 92% of participant eligibility, 100% of trial interventions, and 84% of primary outcomes were the same in both abstract and full publication. Other areas were more discrepant. Forty-six percent reported the same number of participants randomized in the abstract and full publication; only 22% reported the same number analyzed (median number analyzed per trial was 96 for abstracts and 117 for full publications). Eighty-two percent of trials were closed to follow-up in the full publication compared to 19% of abstracts. Lack of information was a major problem in assessing trial quality: no abstracts reported on allocation concealment, 16% reported on blinding and 14% reported intention to treat analysis. These figures were 49, 19, and 46%, respectively, for full publications. CONCLUSION: The information given for trials in conference proceedings can be unstable, especially for trials presenting early or preliminary results, and needs to be improved.