Importance: Adequate reporting in the abstracts of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) is essential to enable occupational therapy practitioners to critically appraise the validity of findings.
Objective: To evaluate the reporting quality and characteristics of RCT abstracts published between 2008 and 2018 in the occupational therapy journals with the five highest impact factors in 2018.
Design: A descriptive cross-sectional study.
Data Sources: The American Journal of Occupational Therapy (AJOT), Australian Occupational Therapy Journal (AOTJ), Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy (CJOT), Scandinavian Journal of Occupational Therapy (SJOT), and Physical and Occupational Therapy in Pediatrics (POTP) were identified using a Web of Science search.
Study Selection and Data Collection: We searched Scopus for abstracts in the five included journals. We used a 17-point scale based on the CONSORT for Abstracts (CONSORT-A) checklist to assess reporting quality. We also identified characteristics of the abstracts.
Findings: Seventy-eight RCT abstracts were assessed and showed moderate to low adherence to the CONSORT-A checklist (Mdn = 8, interquartile range = 7–9). Abstracts of articles with authors from a higher number of institutions, European first authors, and >200 words had higher CONSORT-A scores. The most underreported CONSORT-A items were trial design, blinding, numbers analyzed, outcome (results), harms, trial registration, and funding.
Conclusions and Relevance: Between 2008 and 2018, the reporting quality in RCT abstracts from the five highest impact occupational therapy journals was moderate to low. Inadequate reporting in RCT abstracts raises the risk that occupational therapy practitioners will make ineffective clinical decisions based on misinterpretation of findings.
What This Article Adds: Reporting quality in RCT abstracts in occupational therapy journals is moderate to low. Journal editors should require authors of RCTs to use the CONSORT-A checklist to promote optimal reporting and transparency in abstracts.