In 1996 the CONSORT statement made recommendations on the strict reporting of randomized controlled trials (RCT). This will facilitate the future assessment of such trials and will highlight those trials that have been performed suboptimally and whose results may be biased.
We have devised a scoring system, based on CONSORT, to assess RCT quality and by reading each original paper in full we have now assessed the quality of trials published from 1966 to 1995.
The mean score for trials identified was 7.3 out of a maximum 12 points. No one journal was significantly better than the others. Trials in rhinology are reported better than head and neck oncology trials (mean scores 7.6 and 6.5 respectively). The past 30 years has not seen an improvement in the quality of the trials.
The reporting of RCTs in the ENT literature is poor. CONSORT guidelines now exist and trialists are encouraged to adopt them when conducting future clinical trials.