Table 1

Categories of reporting of randomised controlled trial results in Results and Conclusion sections of Abstracts. For trials with multiple results, all were reported in the same way in all trials except one; for this trial, we have included the results for the survival co-primary outcome rather than the ordinal composite outcome.

CategoryDescriptionExamplesNumber of comparisons, n (%)
(n=120)
Number of papers (%) (n=94)
ResultsConclusionsResultsConclusions
1Statement of no difference between treatments.“did not differ,” “no difference,” “no effect,” “no change.”9 (7.5)5 (4.2)7 (7.4)1 (1.1)
2Statement that there was no difference between treatment, qualified by reference to statistical significance.“no significant difference,” “not statistically different,” “not statistically significant,” “no significant effect.”38 (31.7)16 (13.3)29 (30.9)15 (16.0)
3Statement that there was no difference between treatments, qualified by something other than statistical significance.“no substantial difference,” “no clinically relevant difference.”3 (2.5)1 (0.8)2 (2.1)1 (1.1)
4Statement that the intervention was not beneficial.“did not result in increase (or decrease or improve),” “was not superior,” “did not increase (or decrease or improve),” “did not prevent.”7 (5.8)65 (54.2)3 (3.2)50 (53.2)
5Statement that the intervention was not beneficial, qualified by reference to statistical significance.“not significantly better (or worse),” “did not significantly increase (or decrease),” “not statistically increased (or decreased).”2 (1.7)14 (11.7)2 (2.1)12 (12.8)
6Statement that the intervention was not beneficial, qualified by reference to something other than statistical significance.“not substantially increased (or decreased).”0 (0)3 (2.5)0 (0)2 (2.1)
7Statement that there was a lack of evidence for a difference.“no evidence that (intervention) reduced the risk of (outcome).”0 (0)2 (1.7)0 (0)2 (2.1)
8Statement that the treatments compared were similar.“yield similar outcomes”
“similar risk of [outcome]”
“rate of [outcome] was similar.”
3 (2.5)7 (5.8)3 (3.2)4 (4.3)
9Quotation of the results, without any claim about the size or direction of effect.Estimate and 95% CI.58 (48.3)4 (3.3)48 (51.1)4 (4.3)
10Clinical recommendation, without interpretation of results.“There is no harm in (using intervention)”
“The choice between (interventions) should be made based on clinical knowledge.”
0 (0)3 (2.5)0 (0)3 (3.2)