Univariate analysis demonstrated that studies that are prospective and blinded and with sponsorship are more likely to be published. To account for each parameter independently, a multivariate analysis was performed, which showed that prospective design and blinding were the only two factors that significantly affected the publication rate (Table 1).
Although the review of presented abstracts showed no evidence of positive outcome bias, this could be secondary to multiple factors. First, only 138 abstracts in this study were reviewed. Thus, our study might have been underpowered. Second, given the nature of American Society of Plastic Surgeons meetings, abstracts undergo an extensive screening process before acceptance for presentation. This in itself might pose a risk for publication bias. Therefore, to understand the presence of publication bias at this level, further studies are needed to study all abstracts submitted to scientific journals.
To limit the influence of publication bias in the future, several techniques could be used. Increased use of a national clinical registry such as www.clinicaltrials.gov could reduce the influence of publication bias in ongoing research.5 Unfortunately, retrospective studies and case reports are not required to be registered online; therefore, the role of these national clinical registries remains questionable.
In summary, review of published abstracts presented at the 2003 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons reveals that prospective and blinded studies are more likely to be published, and there is no evidence of positive publication bias. Thus, researchers could feel confident that the likelihood of their research acceptance for publication will not be affected by the direction of their findings.
Hani Sinno, M.D., C.M., M.Eng.
Ali Izadpanah, M.D., C.M.
Arash Izadpanah, B.Sc.
Mirko S. Gilardino, M.D., C.M., M.Sc.
The authors have no financial interest to declare in relation to the content of this article.
1. Dickersin K. The existence of publication bias and risk factors for its occurrence. JAMA
2. Callaham ML, Wears RL, Weber EJ, Barton C, Young G. Positive-outcome bias and other limitations in the outcome of research abstracts submitted to a scientific meeting. JAMA
3. Olson CM, Rennie D, Cook D, et al. Publication bias in editorial decision making. JAMA
4. Scherer RW, Dickersin K, Langenberg P. Full publication of results initially presented in abstracts: A meta-analysis. JAMA
5. Dickersin K, Rennie D. Registering clinical trials. JAMA
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