Appraisal of: Eirini Pagkalidou, Dimitrios A. Anastasilakis, Stamatia Kokkali, et al. Reporting completeness in abstracts of systematic reviews of diagnostic test accuracy studies in cardiovascular diseases is suboptimal. Hellenic Journal of Cardiology. 2022:in press. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.hjc.2022.02.001.
Eirini Pagkalidou, Dimitrios A. Anastasilakis, Stamatia Kokkali, et al. Reporting completeness in abstracts of systematic reviews of diagnostic test accuracy studies in cardiovascular diseases is suboptimal. Hellenic Journal of Cardiology. 2022:in press.
Building on the work of Korevaar et al (2015) and Salameh et al (2019) which evaluated the quality of reporting of diagnostic test accuracy (DTA) Systematic Reviews (DTA SRs), Pagkalidou et al. assess the completeness of the abstracts of DTA SRs in cardiovascular diseases using the PRISMA-DTA Checklist for Abstracts (2021). The authors’ rationale for their focus on cardiovascular studies is that many DTA SRs are published in this field allowing their analysis to also include a comparison of the reporting of DTA SRs published in general versus specialized journals.
To identify potential studies for inclusion, the authors took a multistep approach: initially a search in MEDLINE was conducted for studies published between 2010-2017 using the van Enst et al. (2014) published strategy. DTA SRs were limited to 10 higher impact journals: five “general” publications (e.g., Lancet, BMJ) and five cardiovascular-focused journals (e.g., JACC, Int. J. Cardiol). Later, the authors conducted a second search using a different strategy published in McGrath et al. (2017) for DTA SRs published between 2018-2020. Results were also limited to the same 10 journals. In total, a sample of 72 DTA SR abstracts was used in this analysis: 36 from general medical journals and 36 abstracts from specialized cardiovascular journals.
Overall, this study’s results support previous conclusions of suboptimal reporting of DTA SRs. Abstract items were “moderately” reported both in general journals with 6.2 out of 12 items compared to specialized cardiovascular journals with 5.3 out of 12 items (mean difference: 0.88; 95% confidence interval: 0.21, 1.55). The authors point to the word count limits and a publication’s explicit adoption of PRISMA guidelines as being factors in improving the completeness of abstracts.
The findings of PRISMA-DTA Checklist for Abstract items of interest to information retrieval:
· Moderate results for DTA SRs titles identifying the publication as a systematic review of DTA studies: 22/36 in general journals versus 17/36 in specialized journals
· Index tests were reported in all 72 abstracts, and target condition(s) were identified in 35/36 in general journals versus 34/36 in specialized journals
· Moderate reporting of key databases searched: 30/36 in general journals versus 26/36 in specialized journals
· Greater variation was identified in the reporting of search dates: 26/36 in general journals versus 15/36 in specialized journals
Limitations stated by the author(s):
The authors identified several limitations including the exclusion of non-English language studies and limiting to cardiovascular disease studies, therefore findings may not be generalizable to other medical conditions. A small sample size may have also limited the study in being able to comment on specific factors known to contribute to more complete reporting such as publication in high impact journals and DTA SRs conducted after reporting standards were published. The authors also amended their study selection process in their initial protocol to allow for the identification of a larger selection of studies.
Limitations stated by the reviewer(s):
The authors’ decision to use different published DTA search filters to identify studies at different time points is not explained. Furthermore, Figure 1. Flow Diagram of included studies also indicates variation in search methods between the two searches. Another potential limitation was the choice to use DTA methodological filters instead of a validated systematic review filter, as there is stronger evidence to support the sensitivity and/or precision of these methodological filters to identify potentially relevant publications.
diagnostic test accuracy studies