DOI: 10.1093/bjs/znad241.062 ISSN:

SP5.11 A systematic review of participant descriptors reported in studies of small bowel obstruction

Adil Rashid, Mithun Kumar, Matt J Lee
  • Surgery



Reporting of participant descriptors in studies of small bowel obstruction (SBO) can help identify characteristics associated with favourable outcomes and allow comparison with other studies and real-world clinical populations. The aim was to identify the pattern of participant descriptors reported in studies assessing interventions for SBO.


This systematic review was registered with PROSPERO (CRD42021281031) and reported in line with the PRISMA checklist. Systematic searches of Ovid MEDLINE, Embase, and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) were undertaken to identify studies assessing operative and non-operative interventions for adults with SBO. Studies were dual screened for inclusion. Descriptors were categorised into conceptual domains by the research team.


Searches identified 2648 studies, of which 85 were included. A total of 168 unique descriptors were identified. On average, studies reported 12 descriptors. The most frequently reported descriptors were sex, age, SBO aetiology, history of abdominal surgery, BMI and ASA classification. The highest number of descriptors in a single study was 34, compared to the lowest number of descriptors which was one. Pathway factors were the least frequently described domain. Overall, 43 descriptors were reported in just one study.


There is a lack of consistency in participant descriptors reported in studies of SBO. Furthermore, a significant proportion of the descriptors were used infrequently. This makes it challenging to assess whether study participants are representative of the wider population. Further work is required to develop a Core Descriptor Set to standardise the reporting of patient characteristics and reduce heterogeneity between studies.

More from our Archive