Reporting Quality of Systematic Review Abstracts Published in Leading Neurosurgical Journals: A Research on Research Study

Tom J. O'Donohoe, Rana Dhillon, Tahnee Bridson, Jin Wee Tee

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Systematic review (SR) abstracts are frequently relied upon to guide clinical decision-making. However, there is mounting evidence that the quality of abstract reporting in the medical literature is suboptimal. OBJECTIVE: To appraise SR abstract reporting quality in neurosurgical journals and identify factors associated with improved reporting. METHODS: This study systematically surveyed SR abstracts published in 8 leading neurosurgical journals between 8 April 2007 and 21 August 2017. Abstracts were identified through a search of the MEDLINE database and their reporting quality was determined in duplicate using a tool derived from the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses for Abstracts (PRISMA-A) statement. All SR abstracts that provided comparison between treatment strategies were eligible for inclusion. Descriptive statistics were utilized to identify factors associated with improved reporting. RESULTS: A total of 257 abstracts were included in the analysis, with a mean of 22.8 (±25.3) included studies. The overall quality of reporting in included abstracts was suboptimal, with a mean score of 53.05% (±11.18). Reporting scores were higher among abstracts published after the release of the PRISMA-A guidelines (M = 56.52; 21.74-73.91) compared with those published beforehand (M = 47.83; 8.70-69.57; U = 4346.00, z = -4.61, P < .001). Similarly, both word count (r = 0.338, P < .001) and journal impact factor (r = 0.199, P = .001) were associated with an improved reporting score. CONCLUSION: This study demonstrates that the overall reporting quality of abstracts in leading neurosurgical journals requires improvement. Strengths include the large number abstracts assessed, and its weaknesses include the fact that only neurosurgery-specific journals were surveyed. We recommend that attention be turned toward strengthening abstract submission and peer-review processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Neurosurgery
  • Reporting quality
  • Research on research
  • Systematic review

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