Comparing data accuracy between structured abstracts and full-text journal articles: Implications in their use for informing clinical decisions

Paul Fontelo, Alex Gavino, Raymond Francis Sarmiento

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background The abstract is the most frequently read section of a research article. The use of 'Consensus Abstracts', a clinician-oriented web application formatted for mobile devices to search MEDLINE/PubMed, for informing clinical decisions was proposed recently; however, inaccuracies between abstracts and the fulltext article have been shown. Efforts have been made to improve quality. Methods We compared data in 60 recent-structured abstracts and full-text articles from six highly read medical journals. Results Data inaccuracies were identified and then classified as either clinically significant or not significant. Data inaccuracies were observed in 53.33% of articles ranging from 3.33% to 45% based on the IMRAD format sections. The Results section showed the highest discrepancies (45%) although these were deemed to be mostly not significant clinically except in one. The two most common discrepancies were mismatched numbers or percentages (11.67%) and numerical data or calculations found in structured abstracts but not mentioned in the full text (40%). There was no significant relationship between journals and the presence of discrepancies (Fisher's exact p value =0.3405). Although we found a high percentage of inaccuracy between structured abstracts and full-text articles, these were not significant clinically. Conclusions The inaccuracies do not seem to affect the conclusion and interpretation overall. Structured abstracts appear to be informative and may be useful to practitioners as a resource for guiding clinical decisions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-211
Number of pages5
JournalEvidence-Based Medicine
Volume18
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013
Externally publishedYes

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