Monday, 29 February 2016

How to report epidemiology studies

Fiest KM, Marrie RA, Jette N, Bennett DA. The Standards of Reporting of Neurological Disorders (STROND) checklist: Application to multiple sclerosis. Mult Scler. 2016 Feb 26. pii: 1352458516634873. [Epub ahead of print]

BACKGROUND:Descriptive epidemiological studies documenting the incidence and prevalence of multiple sclerosis (MS) and studies that report morbidity, mortality, and economic burden provide essential information for patients, healthcare providers, and policymakers. However, the quality of reporting of observational studies is often poor, limiting the ability to evaluate the validity of the findings. The Standards of Reporting of Neurological Disorders (STROND) reporting guideline comprises recommendations and a 15-item checklist of reporting items to aid high-quality reporting of incidence and prevalence studies of neurological disorders.
METHODS:We explain the basic reporting items of the STROND checklist for the methods, results, and discussion sections in the context of the MS literature and searched for examples of good reporting of those items.
RESULTS:We identified examples of good reporting of the basic reporting items from previous systematic reviews of the descriptive epidemiologic literature in MS.
CONCLUSION:The adoption of the STROND reporting guidelines should improve the quality of reporting of descriptive epidemiological studies in MS. Along with efforts to improve methodological aspects of epidemiological studies and harmonization of data collection efforts, improved reporting could contribute to furthering our understanding of the epidemiology of MS.



For clinical trials we have the CONSORT guidleines, for animal experiments we have ARRIVE guidelines and we have STROND guidelines for epidemeological studies. 

Why follow guidelines. Maybe to limit the poor quality stuff that litters pubmed.  Many of the papers not following this approach reach "cure of the week" that often go nowhere because there is no translatable value and no-one can ever repreat the work. because its methodologies are unintelligable

It started with CONSORT and most clinical trials now follow this appraoch. However, I can't tell you  the number of papers on animal work, I have reviewed stating "we did the experiments according to the ARRIVE guidelines". 

This indicates that the authors view the ARRIVE guidelines as meaningless and are trying to pay lip service to the journals that support use of the ARRIVE guidelines. 

This is because they are reporting guidelines and not experimental design guidelines, although they can help focus the mind in experimental design. Therefore, if you do not report the information required by the guidelines you are not adhering to them. So a statement saying "we did experiments according to the ARRIVE guidelines" without reporting the elements of the ARRIVE guidelines says the authors have difficulty reading and assimilating knowledge and so be warned about the rest of the content.

Journals sign up to these concepts but often very few enforce their own policies. Abit like enforcing EU policies in some EU countries:-). What is the point of this...do it or don't request it. We caught out a few, however if journals don't enforce their own policies then change never happens.

The Wellcome Trust, the Medical Research Council and the MS Society all have the ARRIVE guidelines as a condition of grant. How many people they support actually do this? A summer project for a student I think:-). The authors own publications acknowledging the charities for support is the noose:- What do you think we will find:-)

Any way back to this one and the STROND guidelines. 

This paper puts the STROND guidleines in the context of MS,
we did one in the context of EAE.

Baker D, Amor S. Publication guidelines for refereeing and reporting on animal use in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis.J Neuroimmunol. 2012 Jan 18;242(1-2):78-83.

Although we got most people from the International Neuroimmunology Society board to agree to the content, it should have had big gun names on it to give it weight...as could be the case here because if they all endorse it sets the example. Unfortuanately the big guns are often the guilty ones.

Likewise, although we were guilty of this faux pas too, it is abit silly issuing guidelines that are not open access because most people can't read them. So if you want to know the 15 guidelines which are actually more than 15 because there are sub guidelines

Development of the Standards of Reporting of Neurological Disorders (STROND) checklist: A guideline f or the reporting of incidence and prevalence studies in neuroepidemiology.Bennett DA, Brayne C, Feigin VL, Barker-Collo S, Brainin M, Davis D, Gallo V, Jetté N, Karch A, Kurtzke JF, Lavados PM, Logroscino G, Nagel G, Preux PM, Rothwell PM, Svenson LW. Neurology. 2015 ;85(9):821-8. doi:

It should be open source so you can read them.

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