Improving the reporting and use of health research

Poor quality reporting of studies and related problems of reporting biases threaten the usefulness of health research to inform policy-making. Mark Pearson and Jaime Peters have explored the existence and likely impact of reporting bias in a systematic review of public health interventions, finding that almost a quarter of included studies were affected by some form of reporting bias with the potential to bias the findings of the systematic review.

With Thomas Fuller and Rob Anderson, Mark and Jaime are also involved in a CLAHRC-funded project to assess how the TREND (Transparent Reporting of Evaluations with Non-Randomised Designs) reporting guideline has been used and whether its use is associated with improved reporting completeness. Questionnaires and interviews with authors and journal editors have also been undertaken to explore the contextual and psychological factors that affect the use of reporting guidelines. The team expect this work to make a significant contribution to the understanding of the how the TREND reporting guideline is used by health researchers, and, more generally, how strategies to improve reporting quality can be enhanced.

Jaime has also been involved in a number of studies investigating methods for the detection of funnel plot asymmetry in meta-analyses.

Fuller, T.E., Peters, J.L. Pearson, M., Anderson, R. Impact of the Transparent Reporting of Evaluations with Nonrandomized Designs reporting guideline: ten years on. American Journal of Public Health. 2014; 104(11):e110-e117. Abstract

Fuller, T.E., Pearson, M., Peters, J.L. Transparent reporting, the foundation for full disclosure. A letter to Peters, Abraham & Crutzen (2012) and Hagger, Conner & O’Connor (2013). The European Health Psychologist. 2013; 15(3):67-68. Letter

Fuller, T., Pearson, M., Peters, J., Anderson, R. Evaluating the impact and use of Transparent Reporting of Evaluations with Non-randomised Designs (TREND) reporting guidelines. BMJ Open. 2012; 2(6):e002073. Abstract

Pearson, M., Peters, J. Outcome reporting bias in evaluations of public health interventions: evidence of impact and the potential role of a study register. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. 2012; 66(4):286-9. Abstract

(Also see commentary: Hawe, P. The truth, but not the whole truth? Call for an amnesty on unreported results of public health interventions Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.2012; 66:285)

Sterne, J.A.C., Sutton, A.J., Ioannidis, J.P.A., Terrin, N., Jones, D.R., Lau, J., Carpenter, J., Rucker, G., Harbord, R.M., Schmid, C.H., Tetzlaff, J., Deeks, J.J., Peters, J., Macaskill, P., Schwarzer, G., Duval, S., Altman, D.G., Moher, D., Higgins, J.P.T. Recommendations for examining and interpreting funnel plot asymmetry in meta-analyses of randomised controlled trials. British Medical Journal. 2011;343. Abstract

People involved: Jaime Peters, Mark Pearson, Rob Anderson, Thomas Fuller