DOI: 10.1177/23969873231194811 ISSN:

Selective outcome reporting in randomised controlled trials including participants with stroke or transient ischaemic attack: A systematic review

Mohshin Syed, Helena Martin, Emily S Sena, Paula R Williamson, Rustam Al-Shahi Salman
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Neurology (clinical)


The prevalence of outcome reporting bias (ORB, i.e. selective reporting according to the results observed) across primary outcomes in randomised controlled trials (RCTs) including participants with stroke or transient ischaemic attack (TIA) is unknown.

Materials and Methods:

We searched the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews on 3 February 2021 for reviews published 2008–2020 with at least one RCT of a therapeutic intervention, for participants with stroke or TIA, and a safety or efficacy outcome. We took a random sample of these RCTs and included those with a trial registry record or protocol published before reporting results. Two reviewers assessed discrepancies in outcome reporting across the trial registry record, protocol, statistical analysis plan, and publication for each RCT, using the classification system designed by the Outcome Reporting Bias in Trials group.


Of 600 RCTs, we identified a trial registry record in 120 (20%), a protocol in 28 (5%), and a statistical analysis plan in 5 (1%) with 123 (21%) distinct RCTs being eligible for assessment: 110 (89%, 95% CI 83–94) were at no risk, 7 (6%, 95% CI 3–11) RCTs were at low risk, and 6 (5%, 95% CI 2–10) were at high risk of ORB.


The prevalence of ORB in primary outcomes was low in stroke/TIA RCTs that were included in Cochrane reviews and had an identifiable trial registry record or protocol. Concerningly, we were unable to identify a trial registry record or protocol in most of our sample.


Work is needed to further reduce ORB in stroke/TIA RCTs and explore the generalisability of these findings to RCTs outside of Cochrane reviews or without a registry record or protocol, as well as to secondary outcomes.

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