Spin the Abstracts of Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses Regarding the Treatment of Ménière’s Disease

Benjamin Heigle, Micah Kee, Ryan Ottwell, Wade Arthur, Lacy Brame, Drew N. Wright, Micah Hartwell, Jam Khojasteh, Matt Vassar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objectives: To identify, quantify, and characterize the presence of spin—specific strategies leading to misrepresentation of study results—in the abstracts of systematic reviews and meta-analyses of Ménière’s disease treatment. Methods: Using a cross-sectional design, we searched MEDLINE and Embase on May 28, 2020, for systematic reviews and meta-analyses focused on Ménière’s disease treatment. Returned searches were screened, and data were extracted in a masked, duplicate fashion. Results: Our sample included 36 systematic reviews and meta-analyses. Of the 36 included studies, 22 (61.1%) abstracts contained spin while 14 (38.9%) did not. The most common spin types were selective reporting of benefit (10/36, 27.8%) or harm (8/36, 22.2%). Other types of spin occurred when findings were extrapolated to the global improvement of the disease (5/36, 13.9%), beneficial effects were reported with high risk of bias in primary studies (3/36, 8.3%), and when beneficial effects were extrapolated to an entire class of interventions (1/36, 2.8%). No instances of other spin types occurred. Abstracts containing spin were substantively associated with studies of critically low methodological quality compared with studies with low and moderate quality. No studies had a methodological rating of high quality. No associations were observed between spin and intervention types, journal recommendation of adhering to Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses, or funding. We found a negative correlation (r = −.31) between abstract word limit and presence of spin. Conclusions: Our study highlights that spin in the abstracts of systematic reviews of Ménière’s disease is common, and it further enhances the discussion surrounding spin in abstracts of scientific research. Spin in an abstract does not discredit a study’s findings; however, its occurrence should be eliminated.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAnnals of Otology, Rhinology and Laryngology
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Keywords

  • Ménière’s disease
  • evidence-based medicine
  • vestibular diseases

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