Strengthening the Reporting of Observational studies in Epidemiology (STROBE). The STROBE definition bolsters research reporting. But how?
When we think about medical research our minds turn toward observational studies. Research observations must be performed with utmost care and guidance and more so when it comes to reporting. Validity and reliability are the important aspects of any research data. During the WHO convention in 2004, a panel of journal editors, researchers, and biostatisticians convened for 2-day workshop to jot down a check list for accurate and elaborate reporting of observational studies.
After several versions of reviewing empirical data and evidence, methodological factors, the panel drafted STROBE statement, which involves 22 items to define the following sections of a manuscript: title, abstract, introduction, methods, results, and discussion. Most journals such as BMJ or The Lancet vouch for this statement. And this format is used for reporting observational results in cross-sectional biomedical studies, case-control and cohort.
Openness or transparency is critical in scientific journal publishing. However, in many papers key information is either unclear or unavailable. Hence, STROBE guidelines support researchers’ reports.
A good example is the case study on randomized clinical trials wherein the trial benefitted from the CONSORT (Consolidated Standards Of Reporting Trials) definition drafted during the year 1996.
The writers of the STROBE standard guide researchers on the format to report observational results. Instead of prescribing methods for designing or conducting studies or evaluating the quality of observational research, STROBE addressees the list of item; moreover, the order and format depends on the author’s choice and journal specifications.
To read the checklist, click here and here are the first few sections of the standard.
Item# 1: Title and abstract
Item# 2 and 3: Introduction
Item# 4 – 12: Methods
Item# 13 – 17: Results
Item# 18 – 21: Discussion
Item# 22: Grants
STROBE’s expansion plans
As of now, STROBE is restricted to 3 key observational research designs such as case-control, cross-sectional, and cohort; however, the committee is working to expand STROBE to other research designs.
In conclusion, STROBE is an evolving guide post for researchers. The STROBE panel evaluates it, refines it, and revises it. Because this format is essential for accurate reporting on research findings.