Quality Assessment of Research Articles in Nuclear Medicine Using STARD and QUADAS-2 Tools

Document Type: Original Article

Authors

1 Surin Hospital, Surin, Thailand

2 Cyclotron and National PET center, Chulaborn Hospital, Bangkok, Thailand.

3 Department of Radiology, Faculty of Medicine, Khon Kaen University, Khon Kean, Thailand.

4 Department of Biostatistics and Demography, Faculty of Public Health, Khon Kaen University, Khon Kaen, Thailand.

Abstract

Objective(s): Diagnostic nuclear medicine is being increasingly employed in clinical practice with the advent of new technologies and radiopharmaceuticals. The report of the prevalence of a certain disease is important for assessing the quality of that article. Therefore, this study was performed to evaluate the quality of published nuclear medicine articles and determine the frequency of reporting the prevalence of studied diseases.
Methods: We used Standards for Reporting of Diagnostic Accuracy (STARD) and Quality Assessment of Diagnostic Accuracy Studies (QUADAS-2) checklists for evaluating the quality of articles published in five nuclear medicine journals with the highest impact factors in 2012. The articles were retrieved from Scopus database and were selected and assessed independently by two nuclear medicine physicians. Decision concerning equivocal data was made by consensus between the reviewers.
Results: The average STARD score was approximately 17 points, and the highest score was 17.19±2.38 obtained by the European Journal of Nuclear Medicine. QUADAS-2 tool showed that all journals had low bias regarding study population. The Journal of Nuclear Medicine had the highest score in terms of index test, reference standard, and time interval. Lack of clarity regarding the index test, reference standard, and time interval was frequently observed in all journals including Clinical Nuclear Medicine, in which 64% of the studies were unclear regarding the index test. Journal of Nuclear Cardiology had the highest number of articles with appropriate reference standard (83.3%), though it had the lowest frequency of reporting disease prevalence (zero reports). All five journals had the same STARD score, while index test, reference standard, and time interval were very unclear according to QUADAS-2 tool. Unfortunately, data were too limited to determine which journal had the lowest risk of bias. In fact, it is the author’s responsibility to provide details of research methodology so that the reader can assess the quality of research articles.
Conclusion: Five nuclear medicine journals with the highest impact factor were comparable in terms of STARD score, although they all showed lack of clarity regarding index test, reference standard, and time interval, according to QUADAS-2. The current data were too limited to determine the journal with the lowest bias. Thus, a comprehensive overview of the research methodology of each article is of paramount importance to enable the reader to assess the quality of articles.

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