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      Adherence to Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials (CONSORT) Guidelines for Reporting Safety Outcomes in Trials of Cannabinoids for Chronic Pain: Protocol for a Systematic Review

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          Chronic pain affects a significant proportion of the population and presents a major challenge to clinicians and pain specialists. Despite the availability of pharmacologic treatment options such as opioids, many patients continue to experience persistent pain. Cannabinoids present an alternative option with some data on efficacy; however, to date, a systematic review of adverse events (AEs) assessment and reporting in randomized clinical trials (RCTs) involving cannabinoids has not been performed. As a result, it is unclear whether a clear profile of cannabinoid-associated AEs has been accurately detailed in the literature. As cannabinoids are likely to become readily available for patients in the near future, it is important to study how well AEs have been reported in trials so that the safety profile of cannabinoids can be better understood.


          With a potentially enormous shift toward cannabinoid use for managing chronic pain and spasticity, this study aims to reveal the adequacy of AE reporting and cannabinoid-specific AEs in this setting. Spasticity is a major contributor to chronic pain in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), with a comorbidity of 75%. Many cannabinoid studies have been performed in MS-related painful spasticity with relevant pain outcomes, and these studies will be included in this review for comprehensiveness. The primary outcome will be the quality of AE assessment and reporting by adherence to the Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials (CONSORT) guidelines. Secondary outcomes will include the type of AE, method of AE reporting, severity of AE, frequency of AEs, patient withdrawals, and reasons for withdrawals.


          We will perform a systematic review by searching for primary reports of double-blind, randomized controlled trials of cannabinoids compared with placebo and any active comparator treatments for chronic pain, with a primary outcome directly related to pain (eg, pain intensity, pain relief, and pain-related interference). We will search the following databases: MEDLINE, Embase, Cochrane Library, and PsycINFO. RevMan software will be used for meta-analysis.


          The protocol has been registered on the International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews (CRD42018100401). The project was funded in 2018 and screening has been completed. Data extraction is under way and the first results are expected to be submitted for publication in January or February 2019.


          This review will better elucidate the safety of cannabinoids for the treatment of chronic pain and spasticity through identifying gaps in the literature for AE reporting. Like in any new therapy, it is essential that accurate information surrounding the safety and efficacy of cannabinoids be clearly outlined and identified to balance the benefit and harm described for patients.

          Trial Registration

          PROSPERO CRD42018100401;

          International Registered Report Identifier (IRRID)


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          Most cited references 35

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          Measuring inconsistency in meta-analyses.

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            The Cochrane Collaboration’s tool for assessing risk of bias in randomised trials

            Flaws in the design, conduct, analysis, and reporting of randomised trials can cause the effect of an intervention to be underestimated or overestimated. The Cochrane Collaboration’s tool for assessing risk of bias aims to make the process clearer and more accurate
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              The CONSORT statement: revised recommendations for improving the quality of reports of parallel-group randomised trials.

              To comprehend the results of a randomised controlled trial (RCT), readers must understand its design, conduct, analysis, and interpretation. That goal can be achieved only through total transparency from authors. Despite several decades of educational efforts, the reporting of RCTs needs improvement. Investigators and editors developed the original CONSORT (Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials) statement to help authors improve reporting by use of a checklist and flow diagram. The revised CONSORT statement presented here incorporates new evidence and addresses some criticisms of the original statement. The checklist items pertain to the content of the Title, Abstract, Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion. The revised checklist includes 22 items selected because empirical evidence indicates that not reporting this information is associated with biased estimates of treatment effect, or because the information is essential to judge the reliability or relevance of the findings. We intended the flow diagram to depict the passage of participants through an RCT. The revised flow diagram depicts information from four stages of a trial (enrollment, intervention allocation, follow-up, and analysis). The diagram explicitly shows the number of participants, for each intervention group, included in the primary data analysis. Inclusion of these numbers allows the reader to judge whether the authors have done an intention-to-treat analysis. In sum, the CONSORT statement is intended to improve the reporting of an RCT, enabling readers to understand a trial's conduct and to assess the validity of its results.

                Author and article information

                JMIR Res Protoc
                JMIR Res Protoc
                JMIR Research Protocols
                JMIR Publications (Toronto, Canada )
                January 2019
                28 January 2019
                : 8
                : 1
                [1 ] Department of Anesthesiology & Perioperative Medicine Queen's University Kingston, ON Canada
                [2 ] Washington University Pain Center Washington University School of Medicine St. Louis, MO United States
                [3 ] University of Rochester Medical Center School of Medicine and Dentistry University of Rochester Rochester, NY United States
                [4 ] Department of Anesthesia and Pain Medicine University of Toronto Toronto, ON Canada
                [5 ] Department of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences Queen's University Kingston, ON Canada
                [6 ] Centre for Neuroscience Studies Queen's University Kingston, ON Canada
                Author notes
                Corresponding Author: Ian Gilron gilroni@
                ©Mohammed M Mohiuddin, Glenio Mizubuti, Simon Haroutounian, Shannon Smith, Fiona Campbell, Rex Park, Ian Gilron. Originally published in JMIR Research Protocols (, 28.01.2019.

                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 work, first published in JMIR Research Protocols, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on well as this copyright and license information must be included.



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