Reporting bias in imaging: higher accuracy is linked to faster publication
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OBJECTIVES: The objective of this study was to evaluate whether higher reported accuracy estimates are associated with shorter time to publication among imaging diagnostic accuracy studies. METHODS: We included primary imaging diagnostic accuracy studies, included in meta-analyses from systematic reviews published in 2015. For each primary study, we extracted accuracy estimates, participant recruitment periods and publication dates. Our primary outcome was the association between Youden's index (sensitivity + specificity - 1, a single measure of diagnostic accuracy) and time to publication. RESULTS: We included 55 systematic reviews and 781 primary studies. Study completion dates were missing for 238 (30%) studies. The median time from completion to publication in the remaining 543 studies was 20 months (IQR 14-29). Youden's index was negatively correlated with time from completion to publication (rho = -0.11, p = 0.009). This association remained significant in multivariable Cox regression analyses after adjusting for seven study characteristics: hazard ratio of publication was 1.09 (95% CI 1.03-1.16, p = 0.004) per unit increase for logit-transformed estimates of Youden's index. When dichotomizing Youden's index by a median split, time from completion to publication was 20 months (IQR 13-33) for studies with a Youden's index below the median, and 19 months (14-27) for studies with a Youden's index above the median (p = 0.104). CONCLUSION: Imaging diagnostic accuracy studies with higher accuracy estimates were weakly associated with a shorter time to publication. KEY POINTS: • Higher accuracy estimates are weakly associated with shorter time to publication. • Lag in time to publication remained significant in multivariate Cox regression analyses. • No correlation between accuracy and time from submission to publication was identified.
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