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Stahl, Ann-Christine; Tietz, Anne-Sophie; Dewey, Marc; Kendziora, Benjamin (2023): Has the quality of reporting improved since it became mandatory to use the Standards for Reporting Diagnostic Accuracy? Insights into Imaging, 14 (1). ISSN 1869-4101

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To investigate whether making the Standards for Reporting Diagnostic Accuracy (STARD) mandatory by the leading journal ‘Radiology’ in 2016 improved the quality of reporting of diagnostic accuracy studies.

A validated search term was used to identify diagnostic accuracy studies published in Radiology in 2015 and 2019. STARD adherence was assessed by two independent reviewers. Each item was scored as yes (1 point) if adequately reported or as no (0 points) if not. The total STARD score per article was calculated. Wilcoxon–Mann–Whitney tests were used to evaluate differences of the total STARD scores between 2015 and 2019. In addition, the total STARD score was compared between studies stratified by study design, citation rate, and data collection.

The median number of reported STARD items for the total of 66 diagnostic accuracy studies from 2015 to 2019 was 18.5 (interquartile range [IQR] 17.5–20.0) of 29. Adherence to the STARD checklist significantly improved the STARD score from a median of 18.0 (IQR 15.5–19.5) in 2015 to a median of 19.5 (IQR 18.5–21.5) in 2019 (p < 0.001). No significant differences were found between studies stratified by mode of data collection (prospective vs. retrospective studies, p = 0.68), study design (cohort vs. case–control studies, p = 0.81), and citation rate (two groups divided by median split [< 0.56 citations/month vs. ≥ 0.56 citations/month], p = 0.54).

Making use of the STARD checklist mandatory significantly increased the adherence with reporting standards for diagnostic accuracy studies and should be considered by editors and publishers for widespread implementation.

Critical relevance statement
Editors may consider making reporting guidelines mandatory to improve the scientific quality.

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