Scientific Article   |    
An Observational Study of Orthopaedic Abstracts and Subsequent Full-Text Publications
Mohit Bhandari, MD, MSc; P. J. Devereaux, MD; Gordon H. Guyatt, MD, MSc; Deborah J. Cook, MD, MSc; Marc F. Swiontkowski, MD; Sheila Sprague, BSc; Emil H. Schemitsch, MD
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Investigation performed at the Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, McMaster University Health Sciences Centre, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Mohit Bhandari, MD, MSc
P. J. Devereaux, MD
Gordon H. Guyatt, MD, MSc
Deborah J. Cook, MD, MSc
Sheila Sprague, BSc
Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, McMaster University Health Sciences Centre, Room 2C12, 1200 Main Street West, Hamilton, ON L8N 3Z5, Canada. E-mail address for M. Bhandari: bhandari@sympatico.ca

Marc F. Swiontkowski, MD
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Minnesota Medical School, 420 Delaware Street S.E., Box 492, Minneapolis, MN 55455

Emil H. Schemitsch, MD
Division of Orthopaedic Surgery, Department of Surgery, St. Michael's Hospital, 55 Queen Street East, Suite 800, Toronto, ON M5C 1R6, Canada

The authors did not receive grants or outside funding in support of their research or preparation of this manuscript. They did not receive payments or other benefits or a commitment or agreement to provide such benefits from a commercial entity. No commercial entity paid or directed, or agreed to pay or direct, any benefits to any research fund, foundation, educational institution, or other charitable or nonprofit organization with which the authors are affiliated or associated.

J Bone Joint Surg Am, 2002 Apr 01;84(4):615-621
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Background: Research abstracts are frequently referenced in orthopaedic textbooks and influence orthopaedic care. However, little is known about the quality of information provided in the abstracts, the frequency of publication of complete papers after presentation of abstracts, or any discrepancies between abstracts and published papers. The objective of this study was to determine the quality of information provided in orthopaedic abstracts, rates of publication of full-text articles after presentation of abstracts, predictors of publication of full-text articles, and consistency between abstracts and full-text articles.

Methods: We retrieved all abstracts from the 1996 scientific program of the sixty-third Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. For each abstract, we recorded the completeness of reporting and key features of the study design, conduct, analysis, and interpretation. A computerized Medline and PubMed search established whether the abstract had been followed by publication of a full-text article. Finally, we evaluated the consistency of reporting between abstracts and final publications.

Results: The program included 465 abstracts, 66% of which were on prognostic studies. All abstracts described the study design, and 70.7% of the designs were observational. Key methodological issues were reported in less than half of the abstracts, and information on data analysis was reported in <15%. One hundred and fifty-nine (34%) of the 465 abstracts were followed by publication of a full-text article. The mean time to publication (and standard deviation) was 17.6 ±; 12 months (range, one to fifty-six months). Inconsistencies between the abstract and the full-text article included the primary outcome measure, which differed 14% of the time, and the results, which differed 19% of the time.

Conclusions: Two-thirds of the orthopaedic abstracts in this sample were not followed by publication of a full-text paper. The overall quality of reporting in abstracts proved inadequate, and inconsistencies between the final published paper and the original abstract occurred frequently. The routine use of abstracts as a guide to orthopaedic practice needs to be reconsidered.

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    These activities have been planned and implemented in accordance with the Essential Areas and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint sponsorship of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians.
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