ROB-ME: a tool for assessing risk of non-reporting biases in systematic reviews with or without meta-analysis
Jonathan Sterne, University of Bristol
Julian Higgins, University of Bristol
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.