Completeness of reporting for systematic reviews assessing the diagnostic accuracy of point-of-care ultrasound.

Include ‘Blog entry written on: Completeness of reporting for systematic reviews of point-of-care ultrasound: a meta-research study, (bmjebm-2020-111652).

Authors: Ross Prager, Michael Pratte, Andrew Guy, Sudarshan Bala, Roudi Bachar, Daniel J Kim, Scott Millington, Jean-Paul Salameh, Trevor A McGrath, Matthew DF McInnes.

Point of care ultrasound (POCUS) has become a valuable tool for answering focused clinical questions. As its popularity increases, a growing number of systematic reviews and meta-analyses have begun to study its ability to detect pathology (i.e., its diagnostic accuracy). While systematic reviews are considered among the highest level of evidence, this is dependent upon their methodological soundness. The objective of this study was to determine the completeness of reporting for systematic reviews assessing the diagnostic accuracy of POCUS.

In our study “Completeness of reporting for systematic reviews of point-of-care ultrasound: a meta-research study” (bmjebm-2020-111652) we searched the POCUS literature for systematic reviews assessing the diagnostic accuracy of POCUS. We identified 71 studies meeting our inclusion criteria, which were then scored using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses for Diagnostic Test Accuracy (PRISMA-DTA) checklist to evaluate for completeness of reporting. Overall, the average score of study adherence to PRISMAS-DTA was moderate for the full texts (76%) and the abstracts (64%). Several items, including protocol registration, minimally acceptable test accuracy, and variability in handling of target condition, index test and reference standards, were reported i less than 33% of studies. Subgroup analysis showed that a higher mean PRISMA-DTA adherence was associated with high impact journals, studies with supplementary material, studies citing adherence to PRISMA-DTA, and studies published in journals endorsing PRISMA-DTA.

We hope that this study serves as a call to action for journal editors and POCUS researchers alike to improve reporting of the literature. Interventions such as prospective registrations of studies, use of supplementary material and deliberate adherence to PRISMA-DTA checklist at all stages of the research process could improve reporting completeness; at an editorial level, endorsement of reporting guidelines on journal websites could also improve reporting. For clinicians reading POCUS systematic reviews, we encourage readers to carefully appraise diagnostic accuracy studies without trial registration or minimally acceptably test accuracy thresholds, as they may be susceptible to overinterpretation of results.



Ross Prager

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University of Ottawa, Department of Medicine

Conflicts of interest: Ross Prager has no financial or competing interests to declare


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