Evaluation of spin in the abstracts of systematic reviews and meta-analyses of treatments and interventions for smoking cessation

Morgan Garrett, Tremayne Koochin, Ryan Ottwell, Wade Arthur, Taylor C. Rogers, Micah Hartwell, Elizabeth Chen, Alicia Ford, Drew N. Wright, Meghan Sealey, Lan Zhu, Matt Vassar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


INTRODUCTION Smoking cessation treatments and available evidence continue to evolve. To stay current with the latest research, physicians often refer to abstracts of systematic reviews. Because abstracts of systematic reviews may have direct effects on patient care, the information within them should be free of ‘spin’. Spin is a specific way of reporting, intentional or not, to highlight that the beneficial effect of the experimental treatment in terms of efficacy or safety is greater than that shown by the results (i.e. overstate efficacy and/or understate harm). METHODS We searched systematic reviews and meta-analyses focused on interventions and treatments for smoking cessation. Full-text screening, data extraction, evaluation of spin, and quality assessment were conducted in masked, duplicate fashion. Study and journal characteristics were also recorded to determine whether they were associated with the presence of spin. RESULTS A total of 200 systematic reviews that met inclusion criteria were included in the final analyses. Spin occurred in 3.5% (7/200) of the systematic review abstracts included in our sample. No study characteristics were significantly associated with spin. CONCLUSIONS Of the reviewed abstracts in systematic reviews and meta-analyses, 96.5% of those that focused on smoking cessation were free of spin. However, the existence of spin warrants further steps to improve the scientific accuracy of abstracts on smoking cessation treatments. By identifying and acknowledging the presence of spin in systematic reviews, we hope to increase awareness about reporting practices in an ultimate effort to improve the integrity of scientific research as a whole.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalTobacco Prevention and Cessation
StatePublished - May 2021


  • SPIN
  • abstracts
  • meta analysis
  • smoking cessation
  • systemic review


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