Exploring the reporting quality of anaesthesia perioperative randomized controlled trials in Sub-Saharan Africa: a meta-epidemiological cohort study

Session Type
Oral presentation
Communicating evidence including misinformation and research transparency
Hohlfeld AS1, Collier L2, Biccard B2
1Cochrane South Africa, South African Medical Research Council, South Africa
2Department of Anaesthesia and Perioperative Medicine, University of Cape Town, South Africa

Background: Annually, 313million surgical procedures require anaesthesia are performed with a portion conducted in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Access to working, safe and affordable surgical systems is a global health priority for the public and healthcare consumers. For this to happen, decisions that are made hinge on an effective evidence ecosystem that consists of clear and transparent published trial data. This is especially important during an infodemic and growing concerns over research waste.
Objectives: Determine the reporting quality of trials conducted in SSA since 2000 using the CONSORT-2010 checklist.
Methods: Searched PubMed, Scopus and Cochrane Library using both Cochrane-approved African and trials search filters with keywords pertaining to anaesthesia and operative care. We screened records independently and in duplicate and extracted data into an excel spreadsheet using the CONSORT checklist items as a guide. We considered trials published between 2000-2010 as the pre-CONSORT era, and 2010 onwards as the CONSORT era
Results: Our search found 3101 studies, 148 were eligible. In the pre-CONSORT era, 31(21%) trials were published compared to 117 (79%) in the CONSORT era. The mean sample size was 97 participants. During the CONSORT era, 71% of publications described the randomisation allocation process, 55% reported on randomisation concealment. Studies reporting on the blinding of provider in 49% of publications, blinded participants was 62%, and blinded analysts were 58%. 42% reported trial registration numbers, and 6% had accessible protocols. 17% mentioned using CONSORT guidelines.
Conclusions: For the number of surgical procedures performed in SSA, there are clearly small sample sizes attained in the trials compared to the continent’s population. Furthermore, during the CONSORT era, one should be concerned about the transparency in methodological reporting for risk of bias, the lack of trial registration numbers, accessible protocols and not adhering to CONSORT guidelines. Avoiding misinformation and ensuring research transparency promotes confidence in research from patients and healthcare consumers.
Patient, public and/or healthcare consumer involvement: no direct involvement in the conduct of our research but, we would welcome public partnership in drawing attention to our findings.