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Lack of reporting guidelines and clinical trial registration in physical medicine and rehabilitation

Paul, Eli
Elfar, Annes
Peters, Caleb
Smith, Caleb
Nees, Danya
Hughes, Griffin
Vassar, Matt
Background: Research surrounding Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PMR) is a growing field, yet previous studies have shown that the quality of evidence regarding research in PMR is deficient and can be attributed to poor methodological quality of the research and lack of reporting guidelines. Reporting guidelines and clinical trial registration have been shown to improve scientific research by ameliorating bias and promoting transparency. Therefore, the purpose of our study was to assess the top 100 journals in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation to determine the requirement/recommendation for authorship use of reporting guidelines and clinical trial registration.
Methods: We identified the top 100 journals in PMR using the 2021 Scopus CiteScore tool. In a blind, duplicate fashion, two investigators explored submission guidelines of each included journal for the presence or absence of statements germane to reporting guidelines and clinical trial registration. A standardized email was sent to each journal inquiring what study designs they do not accept for publishing to avoid unfair assessment. Additionally, we extracted journal name, five-year impact factor, region of journal publication, and mention of the ICMJE: an organization of medical journals setting publication and peer-review standards.
Results: Clinical trial registration was required by 50% (50 journals) of the top 100 PMR journals. Of the reporting guidelines analyzed, Quality of Reporting of Meta-analyses (QUOROM) was the least mentioned guideline of our included journals. Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials (CONSORT) was the most required guideline with 24% (24 journals) journals requiring its use and 38% (38 journals) recommending use. Overall, all guidelines analyzed fell below 50% adherence by the journals included in this study for investigation.
Conclusion: Our investigation into the top 100 journals of PMR found that the majority of journals do not require reporting guidelines or clinical trial registration. Further, we found the mention of specific reporting guidelines to be largely variable. Journals should adopt more rigorous policies in regard to adherence to reporting guidelines and clinical trial registration in efforts to enhance research within PMR.