A quantitative and qualitative evaluation of reports of clinical trials published in six Brazilian dental journals indexed in the Scientific Electronic Library Online (SciELO).
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INTRODUCTION: Open access publishing is becoming increasingly popular within the biomedical sciences. SciELO, the Scientific Electronic Library Online, is a digital library covering a selected collection of Brazilian scientific journals many of which provide open access to full-text articles.This library includes a number of dental journals some of which may include reports of clinical trials in English, Portuguese and/or Spanish. Thus, SciELO could play an important role as a source of evidence for dental healthcare interventions especially if it yields a sizeable number of high quality reports. OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to identify reports of clinical trials by handsearching of dental journals that are accessible through SciELO, and to assess the overall quality of these reports. MATERIAL AND METHODS: Electronic versions of six Brazilian dental Journals indexed in SciELO were handsearched at www.scielo.br in September 2008. Reports of clinical trials were identified and classified as controlled clinical trials (CCTs - prospective, experimental studies comparing 2 or more healthcare interventions in human beings) or randomized controlled trials (RCTs - a random allocation method is clearly reported), according to Cochrane eligibility criteria. CRITERIA TO ASSESS METHODOLOGICAL QUALITY INCLUDED: method of randomization, concealment of treatment allocation, blinded outcome assessment, handling of withdrawals and losses and whether an intention-to-treat analysis had been carried out. RESULTS: The search retrieved 33 CCTs and 43 RCTs. A majority of the reports provided no description of either the method of randomization (75.3%) or concealment of the allocation sequence (84.2%). Participants and outcome assessors were reported as blinded in only 31.2% of the reports. Withdrawals and losses were only clearly described in 6.5% of the reports and none mentioned an intention-to-treat analysis or any similar procedure. CONCLUSIONS: The results of this study indicate that a substantial number of reports of trials and systematic reviews are available in the dental journals listed in SciELO, and that these could provide valuable evidence for clinical decision making. However, it is clear that the quality of a number of these reports is of some concern and that improvement in the conduct and reporting of these trials could be achieved if authors adhered to internationally accepted guidelines, e.g. the CONSORT statement.
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