Quality of missing data reporting and handling in palliative care trials demonstrates that further development of the CONSORT statement is required: a systematic review

Jamilla A Hussain, Martin Bland, Dean Langan, Miriam J Johnson, David C Currow, Ian R White

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVES: Assess (i) the quality of reporting and handling of missing data (MD) in palliative care trials, (ii) whether there are differences in the reporting of criteria specified by the Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials (CONSORT) 2010 statement compared with those not specified, and (iii) the association of the reporting of MD with journal impact factor and CONSORT endorsement status.

STUDY DESIGN AND SETTING: Systematic review of palliative care randomized controlled trials. CENTRAL, MEDLINE, and EMBASE (2009-2014) were searched.

RESULTS: One hundred and eight trials (15,560 participants) were included. MD was incompletely reported and not handled in accordance with current guidance. Reporting criteria specified by the CONSORT statement were better reported than those not specified (participant flow, 69%; number of participants not included in the primary outcome analysis, 94%; and the reason for MD, 71%). However, MD in items contributing to scale summaries (10%) and secondary outcomes (9%) were poorly reported, so the proportion of MD stated is likely to be an underestimate. The reason for MD provided was unclear for 54% of participants and only 16% of trials with MD reported a MD sensitivity analysis. The odds of reporting most of the MD and other risk of bias reporting criteria were increased as the journal impact factor increased and in journals that endorsed the CONSORT statement.

CONCLUSION: Further development of the CONSORT MD reporting guidance is likely to improve the quality of reporting. Reporting recommendations are provided.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-91
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Clinical Epidemiology
Early online date19 May 2017
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2017

Bibliographical note

© 2017 The Authors


  • Guideline Adherence
  • Humans
  • Journal Impact Factor
  • Palliative Care
  • Quality Control
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Research Design
  • Research Report
  • Journal Article
  • Review

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