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1.  Does updating improve the methodological and reporting quality of systematic reviews? 
Systematic reviews (SRs) must be of high quality. The purpose of our research was to compare the methodological and reporting quality of original versus updated Cochrane SRs to determine whether updating had improved these two quality dimensions.
We identifed updated Cochrane SRs published in issue 4, 2002 of the Cochrane Library. We assessed the updated and original versions of the SRs using two instruments: the 10 item enhanced Overview Quality Assessment Questionnaire (OQAQ), and an 18-item reporting quality checklist and flow chart based upon the Quality of Reporting of Meta-analyses (QUOROM) statement. At least two reviewers extracted data and assessed quality. We calculated the percentage (with a 95% confidence interval) of 'yes' answers to each question. We calculated mean differences in percentage, 95% confidence intervals and p-values for each of the individual items and the overall methodological quality score of the updated and pre-updated versions using OQAQ.
We assessed 53 SRs. There was no significant improvement in the global quality score of the OQAQ (mean difference 0.11 (-0.28; 0.70 p = 0.52)). Updated reviews showed a significant improvement of 18.9 (7.2; 30.6 p < .01) on the OQAQ item assessing whether the conclusions drawn by the author(s) were supported by the data and/or analysis presented in the SR. The QUOROM statement showed that the quality of reporting of Cochrane reviews improved in some areas with updating. Improvements were seen on the items relating to data sources reported in the abstract, with a significant difference of 17.0 (9.8; 28.7 p = 0.01), review methods, reported in the abstract 35 (24.1; 49.1 p = 0.00), searching methods 18.9 (9.7; 31.6 p = 0.01), and data abstraction 18.9 (11.7; 30.9 p = 0.00).
The overall quality of Cochrane SRs is fair-to-good. Although reporting quality improved on certain individual items there was no overall improvement seen with updating and methodological quality remained unchanged. Further improvement of quality of reporting is possible. There is room for improvement of methodological quality as well. Authors updating reviews should address identified methodological or reporting weaknesses. We recommend to give full attention to both quality domains when updating SRs.
PMCID: PMC1569863  PMID: 16772030
2.  Lead editorial: Trials – using the opportunities of electronic publishing to improve the reporting of randomised trials 
Trials  2006;7:6.
This editorial introduces the new online, open access, peer-reviewed journal Trials. The journal considers manuscripts on any aspect of the design, performance, and findings of randomised controlled trials in any discipline related to health care, and also encourages the publication of protocols. Trialists will be able to provide the necessary detail for a true and complete scientific record. They will be able to communicate not only all outcome measures, as well as varying analyses and interpretations, but also in-depth descriptions of what they did and honest reflections about what they learnt.
Trials also encourages articles covering generic issues related to trials, for example focussing on the design, conduct, analysis, interpretation, or reporting.
PMCID: PMC1449870  PMID: 16556322
3.  Is the involvement of opinion leaders in the implementation of research findings a feasible strategy? 
There is only limited empirical evidence about the effectiveness of opinion leaders as health care change agents.
To test the feasibility of identifying, and the characteristics of, opinion leaders using a sociometric instrument and a self-designating instrument in different professional groups within the UK National Health Service.
Postal questionnaire survey.
Setting and participants
All general practitioners, practice nurses and practice managers in two regions of Scotland. All physicians and surgeons (junior hospital doctors and consultants) and medical and surgical nursing staff in two district general hospitals and one teaching hospital in Scotland, as well as all Scottish obstetric and gynaecology, and oncology consultants.
Using the sociometric instrument, the extent of social networks and potential coverage of the study population in primary and secondary care was highly idiosyncratic. In contrast, relatively complex networks with good coverage rates were observed in both national specialty groups. Identified opinion leaders were more likely to have the expected characteristics of opinion leaders identified from diffusion and social influence theories. Moreover, opinion leaders appeared to be condition-specific. The self-designating instrument identified more opinion leaders, but it was not possible to estimate the extent and structure of social networks or likely coverage by opinion leaders. There was poor agreement in the responses to the sociometric and self-designating instruments.
The feasibility of identifying opinion leaders using an off-the-shelf sociometric instrument is variable across different professional groups and settings within the NHS. Whilst it is possible to identify opinion leaders using a self-designating instrument, the effectiveness of such opinion leaders has not been rigorously tested in health care settings. Opinion leaders appear to be monomorphic (different leaders for different issues). Recruitment of opinion leaders is unlikely to be an effective general strategy across all settings and professional groups; the more specialised the group, the more opinion leaders may be a useful strategy.
PMCID: PMC1436013  PMID: 16722572

Results 1-3 (3)