Quality of development and reporting of dietetic intervention studies in primary care: a systematic review of randomised controlled trials
Ball et al., JHND Early View
High-quality research methodologies and clear reporting of studies are essential to facilitate confidence in research findings. The aim of the present study was to conduct an in-depth examination of the methodological quality and reporting of studies included in a recent systematic review of dietitians’ effectiveness at providing individualised nutrition care to adult patients.
The methodological quality and reporting of 27 Randomised Controlled Trials (RCTs) were appraised using the UK Medical Research Council (MRC) Guidelines for complex interventions and the CONSORT checklist for reporting RCTs. A quality appraisal checklist was developed for each guideline/assessment tool aiming to evaluate the extent to which each study met the designated criteria. Excerpts from studies that best addressed criteria were collated to provide exemplary accounts of how criteria may be achieved in future studies.
None of the reviewed studies met more than half of the MRC Guidance criteria, indicating that there is clear room for improvement in reporting the methodological underpinnings of these studies. Similarly, no studies met all criteria of the CONSORT checklist, suggesting that there is also room for improvement in the design and reporting of studies in this field.
Dietitians, researchers and journal editors are encouraged to use the results and exemplary accounts from this review to identify key aspects of studies that could be improved in future research. Improving future research will enhance the quality of the evidence-base that investigates the outcomes of dietary interventions involving dietitians.