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Table 5 Review flow reporting, included studies, outcomes and analyses in the included systematic reviews (the HTA data were collected for this study; all other data are from Page et al. [1], i.e. the data collected for 300 systematic reviews for a single month in 2004 and 2014)

From: Nature and reporting characteristics of UK health technology assessment systematic reviews

Characteristic 2004 n = 300 [1] HTA 2004 n = 23 HTA 2014 n = 30 Cochrane 2014 n = 45 [1] 2014 n = 300 [1]
Review flow reporting
PRISMA-like flow diagram (and text) - (7%) 13 (57%) 29 (97%) 23 (51%) 206 (69%)
Text/tables or flowchart only - (35%) 8 (35%) 1 (3%) 5 (11%) 20 (7%)
Partially reported - (33%) 0 0 (0%) 7 (16%) 38 (13%)
Not reported - (31%) 2 (9%) 0 (0%) 10 (22%) 36 (12%)
Reasons for exclusion of full text articles reported
PRISMA-like flow diagram and text/tables - (48%) 15 (65%) 27 (91%) 41 (91%) 211 (70%)
Partial (only reasons for some exclusions provided) - (40%) 5 (22%) 1 (3%) 4 (9%) 28 (9%)
Not reported - (17%) 3 (13%) 2 (7%) 0 (0%) 61 (20%)
Grey literature included in review
Yes NR 18 (78%) 9 (30%)* 8 (18%) 26 (9%)
Total number of included participants reported
In main text NR 2/23 (9%) 4/28 (14%) 39/42 (93%) 194/296 (66%)
In abstract NR 1/23 (4%) 4/28 (14%) 37/42 (88%) 147/296 (50%)
At least one outcome reported in Methods NR 21/23 (96%) 30 (100%) 45 (100%) 234 (78%)
A specified primary outcome - (51%) 6 (26%) 16 (53%) 43(96%) 136/288 (47%)
Meta-analysis
No (includes empty reviews or reviews with a statement that studies could not be combined) NR 12 (52%) 15 (50%) 13 (29%) 111 (37%)
Yes NR 11 (47%) 15 (50%) 32 (71%) 189 (63%)
Statistical heterogeneity investigated
Quantitative - (91%) 9/11 (82%) 13 (87%) 32/32 (100%) 175/189 (93%)
Not reported NR 2/11 (18%) 1/15 (7%) 0 (0%) 12 (7%)
Risk of bias incorporated in meta-analysis NR 0/23 (0%) 1/15 (7%) 4/32 (13%) 31/189 (16%)
Publication bias
Formally assessed (Funnel plot etc.) NR 0/23 (0%) 6/30 (20%) 7 (16%) 93 (31%)
Not assessed, but planned if sufficient studies NR 1/23 (4%) 2/30 (7%) 28 (62%) 37 (12%)
Possibility discussed/considered in results, discussion etc. - (31%) 0/23 (0%) 6/30 (20%) 29 (64%) 141 (47%)
GRADE assessment reported NR 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 27 (60%) 32 (11%)
Limitations reported in Discussion/Conclusion
At study level and review level NR 11 (49%) 19 (63%) 32 (71%) 173 (58%)
Study-level only NR 10 (44%) 6 (20%) 10 (22%) 67 (22%)
Review-level only NR 0 3 (10%) 0 (0%) 27 (9%)
Not reported NR 2 (7%) 2 (7%)   
Risk of bias / quality assessment reported
In Abstract (Therapeutic reviews only) NR 7/16 (44%) [63%‡] 8/14a (57%) [79%b] 42 (93%) 99/164 (60%)
  1. HTA Health Technology Assessment, PRISMA Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses, GRADE Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (short GRADE); aExcluding two empty reviews bPercentage that include this in Executive or Scientific Summary