Incomplete reporting of patient-reported outcomes in multiple sclerosis: A meta-epidemiological study of randomized controlled trials

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Background: Multiple Sclerosis significantly affects quality of life, which is often measured by patient-reported outcomes. The incorporation of patient-reported outcomes within clinical trials supplements the efficacy of outcomes in order to provide a patient's perspective for clinicians. Our objective was to evaluate current literature for completeness of reporting of PROs in randomized controlled trials (RCTs) for the management of MS. 

Methods: We used MEDLINE, Embase, and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials to search for RCT publications investigating the management of MS. After duplicate screening via Rayyan, RCTs fitting our inclusion criteria were abstracted employing the Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials - Patient-Reported Outcome (CONSORT-PRO) adaptation and the Cochrane Collaboration Risk of Bias (RoB) 2.0 tool. Mean percent completion of an adaptation of CONSORT-PRO was calculated to address completeness of reporting. In addition, bivariate regression models were used to evaluate relationships between trial characteristics and completeness of reporting. 

Results: Our search returned 3,966 results and 92 RCTs were included for data abstraction and analysis. We found an overall completion of 48.68% (SD=19.03). Sixty-five (of 92; 70.65%) of the RCTs were evaluated as having ‘high’ RoB. There were significant associations between completeness of reporting and the following: mention of CONSORT within published RCTs (t=2.55, p=.013), length of PRO follow-up (t=2.9, p=.005; t=2.14, p=.035), and sample size (t=3.12, p=.002). No other significant associations were found. 

Conclusion: Our study found incomplete adherence to the CONSORT-PRO adaptation among RCTs pertaining to MS. Of the most underreported items, the failure to report a hypothesis and define an approach to missing data threaten the validity of the evidence acquired from RCTs. Furthermore, PROs provide an opportunity to supplement trial outcomes with the patient's perspective. Thus, trialists of future RCTs may improve PRO reporting with increased adherence to the CONSORT-PRO adaptation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103819
JournalMultiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders
StatePublished - Jul 2022


  • Completeness of reporting
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Patient-reported outcome
  • Quality of life
  • Randomised controlled trials


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