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Evidence-Based Healthcare

Reporting of Methodologic Information on Trial Registries for Quality Assessment: A Study of Trial Records Retrieved from the WHO Search Portal
Published: Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Author: Ludovic Reveiz et al.

by Ludovic Reveiz, An-Wen Chan, Karmela Krleža-Jeric, Carlos Eduardo Granados, Mariona Pinart, Itziar Etxeandia, Diego Rada, Monserrat Martinez, Xavier Bonfill, Andrés Felipe Cardona


Although randomized clinical trials (RCTs) are considered the gold standard of evidence, their reporting is often suboptimal. Trial registries have the potential to contribute important methodologic information for critical appraisal of study results.

Methods and Findings

The objective of the study was to evaluate the reporting of key methodologic study characteristics in trial registries. We identified a random sample (n?=?265) of actively recruiting RCTs using the World Health Organization International Clinical Trials Registry Platform (ICTRP) search portal in 2008. We assessed the reporting of relevant domains from the Cochrane Collaboration's ‘Risk of bias’ tool and other key methodological aspects. Our primary outcomes were the proportion of registry records with adequate reporting of random sequence generation, allocation concealment, blinding, and trial outcomes. Two reviewers independently assessed each record. Weighted overall proportions in the ICTRP search portal for adequate reporting of sequence generation, allocation concealment, blinding (including and excluding open label RCT) and primary outcomes were 5.7% (95% CI 3.0–8.4%), 1.4% (0–2.8%), 41% (35–47%), 8.4% (4.1–13%), and 66% (60–72%), respectively. The proportion of adequately reported RCTs was higher for registries that used specific methodological fields for describing methods of randomization and allocation concealment compared to registries that did not. Concerning other key methodological aspects, weighted overall proportions of RCTs with adequately reported items were as follows: eligibility criteria (81%), secondary outcomes (46%), harm (5%) follow-up duration (62%), description of the interventions (53%) and sample size calculation (1%).


Trial registries currently contain limited methodologic information about registered RCTs. In order to permit adequate critical appraisal of trial results reported in journals and registries, trial registries should consider requesting details on key RCT methods to complement journal publications. Full protocols remain the most comprehensive source of methodologic information and should be made publicly available.