Your Donations in Action: Matthew D. McInnes, MD, PhD, FRCPC

Understanding the Reporting of Imaging Diagnostic Accuracy Studies: The ‘UnBIAS’ Study Series

Matthew McInnes MD, PhD, FRCPC
Robert Frank, MD
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Ideally, research dissemination is driven by attributes like study quality, novelty and completeness of reporting. However, variables like statistical significance or positivity of conclusions can often boost research dissemination and contribute to publication bias.

In his 2019 Philips/RSNA Research Seed Grant project, Matthew D. McInnes, MD, PhD, FRCPC, scientist at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, and professor of radiology and epidemiology at the University of Ottawa in Canada, and colleagues sought to study variables in imaging diagnostic test accuracy (DTA) research associated with higher likelihood of dissemination in the form of presentation at radiology conferences and publication in scholarly journals. Through their work, the researchers provided a data-driven evaluation of bias toward preferential dissemination of DTA studies with higher accuracy estimates and positive conclusions.

Supported by funding from Dr. McInnes’ grant, Robert Frank, MD, PhD, clinical fellow in abdominal imaging and intervention at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and colleagues continued their investigation of this subject with a more granular evaluation of publication bias to determine whether accuracy estimates and conclusion positivity are associated with acceptance of submitted research to radiology conferences and journals.

They also looked at the effectiveness of the editorial review process by determining whether abstracts with more complete reporting were more likely to be accepted.

Their analysis did not show an association between conclusion positivity and acceptance. Because the majority of submitted studies had positive conclusions, the researchers note that the preferential publication of studies with positive conclusions may be related to pre-submission factors.

They identified no association between reporting completeness and acceptance, concluding that there is room for improvement in the editorial review process.

This work provides a more detailed understanding of the potential sources of publication bias and identifies potential areas for targeted intervention to improve the quality of evidence guiding the interpretation of diagnostic imaging tests in clinical practice,” Dr. Frank said.

Funding from the R&E Foundation grant received by Dr. McInnes also gave Dr. Frank the opportunity to lead a large-scale investigation and proved essential for gaining access to submitted materials and editorial data from major radiology conferences and journals.

“The work funded by this grant formed a substantial component of my PhD thesis and allowed me to gain valuable experience in leading a multidisciplinary team of trainees at various levels while collaborating with international experts in the fields of radiology and clinical epidemiology,” Dr. Frank said. “Ultimately, this grant has helped me establish a strong foundation upon which to continue to build my career as an academic radiologist.”

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