Studies of stroke rehabilitation therapies should report blinding and rationalize use of outcome measurement instruments
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OBJECTIVE: To review the reporting of key design features in studies of stroke rehabilitation therapies. STUDY DESIGN AND SETTING: We used purposive sampling to examine English-language, human-subject, comparative studies focusing on stroke rehabilitation therapy provided the effect of therapy was evaluated in at least one of the following six outcome domains: ambulation, cognition, quality of life, daily activities, dysphagia, or communication. We searched MEDLINE®, CINAHL®, PsycINFO®, and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (date range: January 2000 through late-January 2008) and extracted data from included studies using standardized forms. We depicted the extracted data in tables and summarized the findings qualitatively in the text. RESULTS: We retrieved 1,674 citations in the literature search and extracted data from 99 studies. Authors' reporting of key design features in stroke rehabilitation studies was lacking in four areas, that is, the background of persons delivering therapy, timing of therapy, subjects' receipt of prior or concomitant treatment, and psychometric properties of outcome measurement instruments. CONCLUSIONS: Except for four areas, reporting of key design features in studies of stroke rehabilitation therapies was quite comprehensive. Researchers should pay particular attention to reporting blinding, and they should rationalize the number of outcome measurement instruments used in their studies.
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