“Spin” in wound care research: the reporting and interpretation of randomized controlled trials with statistically non-significant primary outcome results or unspecified primary outcomes

Lockyer, Suzanne, Hodgson, Rob, Dumville, Jo C. and Cullum, Nicky (2013) “Spin” in wound care research: the reporting and interpretation of randomized controlled trials with statistically non-significant primary outcome results or unspecified primary outcomes. Trials, 14 . doi:10.1186/1745-6215-14-371


Author Lockyer, Suzanne
Hodgson, Rob
Dumville, Jo C.
Cullum, Nicky
Title “Spin” in wound care research: the reporting and interpretation of randomized controlled trials with statistically non-significant primary outcome results or unspecified primary outcomes
Journal name Trials   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1745-6215
1468-6708
Publication date 2013-11-01
Sub-type Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
DOI 10.1186/1745-6215-14-371
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 14
Total pages 10
Place of publication London, United Kingdom
Publisher BioMed
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Background
Spin in the reporting of randomized controlled trials, where authors report research in a way that potentially misrepresents results and mislead readers, has been demonstrated in the broader medical literature. We investigated spin in wound care trials with (a) no statistically significant result for the primary outcome and (b) no clearly specified primary outcome.

Methods
We searched the Cochrane Wounds Group Specialised Register of Trials for randomized controlled trials (RCTs). Eligible studies were: Parallel-group RCTs of interventions for foot, leg or pressure ulcers published in 2004 to 2009 (inclusive) with either a clearly identified primary outcome for which there was a statistically non-significant result (Cohort A) or studies that had no clear primary outcome (Cohort B).

We extracted general study details. For both Cohorts A and B we then assessed for the presence of spin. For Cohort A we used a pre-defined process to assess reports for spin. For Cohort B we aimed to assess spin by recording the number of positive treatment effect claims made. We also compared the number of statistically significant and non-significant results reported in the main text and the abstract looking specifically for spin in the form of selective outcome reporting.

Results
Of the 71 eligible studies, 28 were eligible for Cohort A; of these, 71% (20/28) contained spin. Cohort B contained 43 studies; of these, 86% (37/43) had abstracts that claimed a favorable treatment claim. Whilst 74% (32/43) of main text results in Cohort B included at least one statistically non-significant result, this was not reflected in the abstract where only 28% contained (12/43) at least one statistically non-significant result.

Conclusions
Spin is a frequent phenomenon in reports of RCTs of wound treatments. Studies without statistically significant results for the primary outcome used spin in 71% of cases. Furthermore, 33% (43/132) of reports of wound RCTs did not specify a primary outcome and there was evidence of spin and selective outcome reporting in the abstracts of these. Readers should be wary of only reading the abstracts of reports of RCTs of wound treatments since they are frequently misleading regarding treatment effects.
Keyword Wound care
Randomized controlled trials
Bias
Industry funding
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ
Additional Notes Article number 371.

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
Collection: School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work Publications
 
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Created: Thu, 22 May 2014, 23:04:52 EST by Vicki Percival on behalf of School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work