Reporting quality of systematic review abstracts in articles hand and wrist pathology: a review A review

Main Article Content

Amanda Yang Shen
Robert S Ware
Tom J O'Donohoe
Jason Wasiak


hand, wrist, abstracts, checklist


Background: An increasing number of systematic reviews are published on an annual basis. Although perusal of the full text of articles is preferable, abstracts are sometimes relied upon to guide clinical decisions. Despite this, the abstracts of systematic reviews have historically been poorly reported. We evaluated the reporting quality of systematic review abstracts within hand and wrist pathology literature.
Methods: We searched MEDLINE®, EMBASE and Cochrane Library from inception to December 2017 for systematic reviews in hand and wrist pathology using the 12-item PRISMA-A checklist to assess abstract reporting quality.
Results: A total of 114 abstracts were included. Most related to fracture (38%) or arthritis (17%) management. Forty-seven systematic reviews (41%) included meta-analysis. Mean PRISMA-A score was 3.6/12 with Cochrane reviews having the highest mean score and hand-specific journals having the lowest. Abstracts longer than 300 words (mean difference [MD]: 1.43, 95% CI [0.74, 2.13]; p <0.001) and systematic reviews with meta-analysis (MD: 0.64, 95% CI [0.05, 1.22]; p = 0.034) were associated with higher scores. Unstructured abstracts were associated with lower scores (MD: –0.65, 95% CI [–1.28, –0.02]; p = 0.044). A limitation of this study is the possible exclusion of relevant studies that were not published in the English language.
Conclusion: Abstracts of systematic reviews pertaining to hand and wrist pathology have been suboptimally reported as assessed by the PRISMA-A checklist. Improvements in reporting quality could be achieved by endorsement of PRISMA-A guidelines by authors and journals, and reducing constraints on abstract length.

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