Assessment of whether published non-Cochrane systematic reviews of nursing follow the review protocols registered in the International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews (PROSPERO): A comparative study
Purpose: We compare published non-Cochrane reviews of nursing with their pre-registered protocols on PROSPERO to quantify the prevalence of differences and the extent to which the differences were explained. Methods: We searched for protocols and their corresponding reviews in PROSPERO's nursing group that were “completed and published” from inception to September 8th, 2019. Two authors independently identified differences and classified the difference as none, partial, or complete, and determined if the existed differences had been explained. Frequency (n), percentage (%), median, and inter-quartile ranges were used to analyze the extent of differences and explanations. Results: We identified 22 pre-registered protocols and their reviews. All 22 pairs (100%) exhibited differences. Eighteen pairs (82%) showed differences in at least six methodological sections, while 21 pairs (95%) involved completed difference in at least one section. The median number of differences per review was 8.00 (upper quartile = 6.00, lower quartile = 9.75). The differences involved all 13 compared methodology-related sections. Only 5 (3%) of all differences were explained in the systematic reviews. Conclusions: We observed widespread differences between non-Cochrane reviews of nursing and their protocols recorded in PROSPERO, with relatively few explanations for the changes. Measures including establishing a new item in the reporting guideline of systematic reviews to guide reporting and explaining the reasons for differences between protocols and systematic reviews or even requiring authors to do so at the Journal's author guideline are recommended to improve transparency. ### Competing Interest Statement
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