ROB-ME: a tool for assessing risk of non-reporting biases in systematic reviews with or without meta-analysis

Session Type
Workshop - training
Target audience
Systematic reviewers and other researchers interested in assessing the validity of a systematic review
Level of difficulty

Background: Researchers’ decisions about whether, when, how or where to report studies or results are often influenced by the P value, magnitude or direction of the study results (‘non-reporting biases’). A consequence is bias in systematic reviews, because the available evidence differs systematically from the missing evidence. Existing tools for assessing the risk of non-reporting biases are limited in terms of their scope, guidance for reaching risk of bias judgements and measurement properties.
Objectives: Introduce ROB-ME, a comprehensive new tool for assessing the risk of non-reporting biases in systematic reviews with or without meta-analysis, and provide participants with the opportunity to apply ROB-ME.
Description: The workshop will be split into two parts. 1. Introduction to ROB-ME: We will provide a brief overview of the key components of ROB-ME. These include: •specifying which syntheses will be assessed for risk of bias; •determining which studies meeting the inclusion criteria for the review have missing results; •considering the potential for missing studies across the review; •answering signalling questions to inform risk of bias judgements. These questions ask users to consider the extent of missing results in the studies identified, as well as the risk that a synthesis is biased because additional studies or results, beyond those already assessed, are missing systematically. 2. Applying ROB-ME: Participants will apply ROB-ME to an example systematic review, within small groups. Each group will assess the example review with regard to a particular component of ROB-ME. In a plenary session, we will discuss the results of each group’s assessment and issues that arose during the assessment process. The workshop will conclude with a facilitated, structured discussion focusing on the implications of using the tool alongside other risk of bias tools (e.g. RoB 2, TACIT), and further development needs for guidance and software.