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      Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology (STROBE): Explanation and Elaboration

          There is no author summary for this article yet. Authors can add summaries to their articles on ScienceOpen to make them more accessible to a non-specialist audience.


          Much medical research is observational. The reporting of observational studies is often of insufficient quality. Poor reporting hampers the assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of a study and the generalisability of its results. Taking into account empirical evidence and theoretical considerations, a group of methodologists, researchers, and editors developed the Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology (STROBE) recommendations to improve the quality of reporting of observational studies. The STROBE Statement consists of a checklist of 22 items, which relate to the title, abstract, introduction, methods, results and discussion sections of articles. Eighteen items are common to cohort studies, case-control studies and cross-sectional studies and four are specific to each of the three study designs. The STROBE Statement provides guidance to authors about how to improve the reporting of observational studies and facilitates critical appraisal and interpretation of studies by reviewers, journal editors and readers. This explanatory and elaboration document is intended to enhance the use, understanding, and dissemination of the STROBE Statement. The meaning and rationale for each checklist item are presented. For each item, one or several published examples and, where possible, references to relevant empirical studies and methodological literature are provided. Examples of useful flow diagrams are also included. The STROBE Statement, this document, and the associated Web site ( http://www.strobe-statement.org/) should be helpful resources to improve reporting of observational research.


          In this explanatory and elaboration document Mattias Egger and colleagues provide the meaning and rationale of each checklist item on the STROBE Statement.

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          Most cited references 206

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          REporting recommendations for tumour MARKer prognostic studies (REMARK)

          Despite years of research and hundreds of reports on tumour markers in oncology, the number of markers that have emerged as clinically useful is pitifully small. Often initially reported studies of a marker show great promise, but subsequent studies on the same or related markers yield inconsistent conclusions or stand in direct contradiction to the promising results. It is imperative that we attempt to understand the reasons that multiple studies of the same marker lead to differing conclusions. A variety of methodological problems have been cited to explain these discrepancies. Unfortunately, many tumour marker studies have not been reported in a rigorous fashion, and published articles often lack sufficient information to allow adequate assessment of the quality of the study or the generalisability of the study results. The development of guidelines for the reporting of tumour marker studies was a major recommendation of the US National Cancer Institute and the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (NCI-EORTC) First International Meeting on Cancer Diagnostics in 2000. Similar to the successful CONSORT initiative for randomised trials and the STARD statement for diagnostic studies, we suggest guidelines to provide relevant information about the study design, preplanned hypotheses, patient and specimen characteristics, assay methods, and statistical analysis methods. In addition, the guidelines suggest helpful presentations of data and important elements to include in discussions. The goal of these guidelines is to encourage transparent and complete reporting so that the relevant information will be available to others to help them to judge the usefulness of the data and understand the context in which the conclusions apply.
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            Pharmaceutical industry sponsorship and research outcome and quality: systematic review.

            To investigate whether funding of drug studies by the pharmaceutical industry is associated with outcomes that are favourable to the funder and whether the methods of trials funded by pharmaceutical companies differ from the methods in trials with other sources of support. Medline (January 1966 to December 2002) and Embase (January 1980 to December 2002) searches were supplemented with material identified in the references and in the authors' personal files. Data were independently abstracted by three of the authors and disagreements were resolved by consensus. 30 studies were included. Research funded by drug companies was less likely to be published than research funded by other sources. Studies sponsored by pharmaceutical companies were more likely to have outcomes favouring the sponsor than were studies with other sponsors (odds ratio 4.05; 95% confidence interval 2.98 to 5.51; 18 comparisons). None of the 13 studies that analysed methods reported that studies funded by industry was of poorer quality. Systematic bias favours products which are made by the company funding the research. Explanations include the selection of an inappropriate comparator to the product being investigated and publication bias.
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              Breast cancer and hormone-replacement therapy in the Million Women Study.

               Valerie Beral (2003)
              Current use of hormone-replacement therapy (HRT) increases the incidence of breast cancer. The Million Women Study was set up to investigate the effects of specific types of HRT on incident and fatal breast cancer. 1084110 UK women aged 50-64 years were recruited into the Million Women Study between 1996 and 2001, provided information about their use of HRT and other personal details, and were followed up for cancer incidence and death. Half the women had used HRT; 9364 incident invasive breast cancers and 637 breast cancer deaths were registered after an average of 2.6 and 4.1 years of follow-up, respectively. Current users of HRT at recruitment were more likely than never users to develop breast cancer (adjusted relative risk 1.66 [95% CI 1.58-1.75], p<0.0001) and die from it (1.22 [1.00-1.48], p=0.05). Past users of HRT were, however, not at an increased risk of incident or fatal disease (1.01 [0.94-1.09] and 1.05 [0.82-1.34], respectively). Incidence was significantly increased for current users of preparations containing oestrogen only (1.30 [1.21-1.40], p<0.0001), oestrogen-progestagen (2.00 [1.88-2.12], p<0.0001), and tibolone (1.45 [1.25-1.68], p<0.0001), but the magnitude of the associated risk was substantially greater for oestrogen-progestagen than for other types of HRT (p<0.0001). Results varied little between specific oestrogens and progestagens or their doses; or between continuous and sequential regimens. The relative risks were significantly increased separately for oral, transdermal, and implanted oestrogen-only formulations (1.32 [1.21-1.45]; 1.24 [1.11-1.39]; and 1.65 [1.26-2.16], respectively; all p<0.0001). In current users of each type of HRT the risk of breast cancer increased with increasing total duration of use. 10 years' use of HRT is estimated to result in five (95% CI 3-7) additional breast cancers per 1000 users of oestrogen-only preparations and 19 (15-23) additional cancers per 1000 users of oestrogen-progestagen combinations. Use of HRT by women aged 50-64 years in the UK over the past decade has resulted in an estimated 20000 extra breast cancers, 15000 associated with oestrogen-progestagen; the extra deaths cannot yet be reliably estimated. Current use of HRT is associated with an increased risk of incident and fatal breast cancer; the effect is substantially greater for oestrogen-progestagen combinations than for other types of HRT.

                Author and article information

                PLoS Med
                PLoS Medicine
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
                October 2007
                16 October 2007
                : 4
                : 10
                [1 ] Department of Clinical Epidemiology, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, The Netherlands
                [2 ] Institute of Social & Preventive Medicine (ISPM), University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
                [3 ] Department of Medical Biometry and Medical Informatics, University Medical Centre, Freiburg, Germany
                [4 ] Cancer Research UK/NHS Centre for Statistics in Medicine, Oxford, United Kingdom
                [5 ] Nordic Cochrane Centre, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen, Denmark
                [6 ] University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio, United States of America
                [7 ] Medical Statistics Unit, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, United Kingdom
                [8 ] Department of Epidemiology, University of North Carolina School of Public Health, Chapel Hill, United States of America
                [9 ] Department of Biostatistics, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, and University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, Pittsburgh, United States of America
                [10 ] Department of Social Medicine, University of Bristol, Bristol, United Kingdom
                Author notes
                * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: strobe@ 123456ispm.unibe.ch
                07-PLME-RA-1056R1 plme-04-10-05
                Copyright: © 2007 Vandenbroucke et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. In order to encourage dissemination of the STROBE Statement, this article is freely available on the Web site of PLoS Medicine, and will also be published and made freely available by Epidemiology and Annals of Internal Medicine. The authors jointly hold the copyright of this article. For details on further use, see STROBE Web site ( http://www.strobe-statement.org/).
                Page count
                Pages: 27
                Research Article
                Public Health and Epidemiology
                Science Policy
                Editorial Policies (Including Conflicts of Interest)
                Research Methods
                Custom metadata
                Vandenbroucke JP, von Elm E, Altman DG, Gøtzsche PC, Mulrow CD, et al. (2007) Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology (STROBE): Explanation and Elaboration. PLoS Med 4(10): e297. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.0040297



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