Finding stroke evidence: where and how far do clinicians have to look?

Abstract text
Background: Growth in the number of research papers and journals makes it increasingly difficult for clinicians to keep up-to-date. Studies of the ‘scatter’ of research evidence have occurred in a limited number of specialties, but not stroke.

Objectives: To estimate the degree of scatter of randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and systematic reviews in stroke, changes over time (5 yearly intervals), and identify patterns in which journals publish the largest proportion of evidence.

Methods: Longitudinal analysis of all stroke RCTs and systematic reviews published between 1946-2010. Searches were conducted in MEDLINE using a combination of the Cochrane Stroke Group search strategy, randomised controlled trial as publication type, and a systematic review filter.

Results: There has been an exponential increase in stroke RCTs and systematic reviews, as well as the number of journals publishing them. For example, from 1986-1990, there were 803 published RCTs scattered across 275 journals; in 2006-2010, there were 4217 RCTs across 850 journals (see Figure 1). Similarly for systematic reviews - in 1986-1990, there were 18 reviews across 18 journals; by 2006-2010, 2237 reviews were scattered across 682 journals. There is little overlap between the top 10 journals that publish stroke RCTs and those publishing reviews. Only a small proportion of evidence (<10% of RCTs or reviews) is published in stroke journals.

Conclusions: Trials and reviews relevant to stroke care are now published in more journals than clinicians can feasibly read to keep up-to-date. Clinicians who read only journals in their specialty area will miss many new relevant papers. Solutions which can help clinicians to cope will be discussed.
Hoffmann T1, Glasziou P1, Thorning S1
1 Centre for Research in Evidence-Based Practice, Faculty of Health Sciences and Medicine, Bond University, Australia
Presenting author and contact person
Presenting author: 
Tammy Hoffmann
Contact person Affiliation Country
Tammy Hoffmann (Contact this person) Bond University Australia
Date and Location
Oral session B11O1
Tuesday 2 October 2012 - 11:00 - 11:20