Background: Conference abstracts describing studies of therapeutic interventions with statistically significant results are more likely reach full-text publication in a peer-reviewed journal, which may introduce reporting bias for those trying to synthesize the available evidence. Whether such bias also exists among diagnostic accuracy studies is largely unknown.
Objectives: To assess whether conference abstracts describing diagnostic accuracy studies that report higher accuracy estimates are also more likely reach full-text publication.
Methods: We identified abstracts describing diagnostic accuracy studies, presented between 2007 and 2010 at the annual meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO). We extracted reported estimates of sensitivity, specificity, area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) and diagnostic odds ratio (DOR). Between May and July 2015, we searched MEDLINE and Embase to identify corresponding full-text publications; if needed, we contacted abstract authors. Cox regression was performed to estimate associations with full-text publication, where sensitivity, specificity and AUC were logit transformed, and DOR was log transformed.
Results: Among the 24,497 abstracts presented at ARVO between 2007 and 2010, 399 were included in our study. A full-text publication was found for 226 of 399 (57%) abstracts, with a median time from presentation to publication of 17 months (inter-quartile range 8 to 29). There was no association between reported estimates of sensitivity and full-text publication (hazard ratio (HR) 1.09 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.98 to 1.22)). The same applied to specificity (HR 1.00 (95% CI 0.88 to 1.14)), AUC (HR 0.91 (95% CI 0.75 to 1.09)) and DOR (HR 1.01 (95% CI 0.94 to 1.09)).
Conclusions: Almost half of the conference abstracts describing diagnostic accuracy studies presented at the annual ARVO meeting did not reach full-text publication. We found no evidence of reporting bias, as abstracts reporting higher accuracy estimates were not more likely to reach full-text publication.