Primary outcome reporting in clinical trials for older adults with depression Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Background Findings from randomised controlled trials (RCTs) are synthesised through meta-analyses, which inform evidence-based decision-making. When key details regarding trial outcomes are not fully reported, knowledge synthesis and uptake of findings into clinical practice are impeded. Aims Our study assessed reporting of primary outcomes in RCTs for older adults with major depressive disorder (MDD). Method Trials published between 2011 and 2021, which assessed any intervention for adults aged ≥65 years with a MDD diagnosis, and that specified a single primary outcome were considered for inclusion in our study. Outcome reporting assessment was conducted independently and in duplicate with a 58-item checklist, used in developing the CONSORT-Outcomes statement, and information in each RCT was scored as ‘fully reported’, ‘partially reported’ or ‘not reported’, as applicable. Results Thirty-one of 49 RCTs reported one primary outcome and were included in our study. Most trials (71%) did not fully report over half of the 58 checklist items. Items pertaining to outcome analyses and interpretation were fully reported by 65% or more of trials. Items reported less frequently included: outcome measurement instrument properties (varied from 3 to 30%) and justification of the criteria used to define clinically meaningful change (23%). Conclusions There is variability in how geriatric depression RCTs report primary outcomes, with omission of details regarding measurement, selection, justification and definition of clinically meaningful change. Outcome reporting deficiencies may hinder replicability and synthesis efforts that inform clinical guidelines and decision-making. The CONSORT-Outcomes guideline should be used when reporting geriatric depression RCTs.


  • Rodrigues, Myanca
  • Oprea, Anna
  • Johnson, Keily
  • Dufort, Alexander
  • Sanger, Nitika
  • Ghiassi, Pegah
  • Sanger, Stephanie
  • Panesar, Balpreet
  • D'Elia, Alessia
  • Parpia, Sameer
  • Samaan, Zainab
  • Thabane, Lehana

publication date

  • March 2024