Date of this Version


Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Details

Submitted version

Sakzewski, L., Reedman, S., & Hoffmann, T. (2016). Do we really know what they were testing? Incomplete reporting of interventions in randomised trials of upper limb therapies in unilateral cerebral palsy. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 59, 417-427.

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Crown Copyright © 2016 Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.





Incomplete reporting of components of interventions limits uptake of evidence into clinical practice.


To evaluate the completeness of reporting of research and control interventions in randomised trials of upper limb therapies for children with unilateral cerebral palsy.

Methods and procedures

Sixty randomized trials were included, encompassing 60 research and 68 control interventions. Using the 12-item Template for Intervention Description and Replication (TIDieR) checklist, two reviewers independently rated intervention and control descriptions.

Outcomes and results

When using 50% of studies as the benchmark, five of the 12 TIDieR items for the research intervention, eight of the 12 items for the control intervention and 11 of 12 items for “usual care” interventions were inadequately reported. Procedures used to deliver the research intervention were adequately reported for 63% of studies. Materials were used in 94% of research interventions, yet only 27% provided details to access/replicate materials. Training materials for interventionists were used in 38% of trials, 10 (17%) had procedure manuals, yet only 3 reported details to access materials. The location where the research intervention was provided was detailed in 65% of studies. Reporting of all items was poorer for the control intervention.


No study adequately reported all elements on the TIDieR checklist. Details crucial for replication of interventions and interpretation of results were missing. Authors, reviewers, and editors all have a responsibility to improve the quality of intervention reporting in published trials. The TIDieR guide is a potential solution, helping to structure accounts of interventions.



This document has been peer reviewed.


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