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Vol. 51, No. 1, 2001
Issue release date: January 2001

Distribution of Study Designs in Four Major US Journals of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Funai E.F. · Rosenbush E.J. · Lee M.-J. · Del Priore G.
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Objective: To classify and compare articles, based on the study design, in four leading US obstetrics and gynecology journals. Methods: One year of each journal, American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology (AJOG), Obstetrics and Gynecology (O&G), Gynecologic Oncology (GO), and Fertility and Sterility (F&S), beginning May 1997, was reviewed. Supplementary issues were excluded from review. The percentage of articles devoted to observational versus experimental study design was determined, and the quality of evidence was assessed including how heavily randomized controlled trials were represented versus other study designs. Results: 1,517 articles were reviewed. The average percentage of clinical research articles was 90.4. The percentage of animal studies were 10.7 (AJOG), 1.1 (O&G), 1.1 (GO) and 4.2 (F&S) (χ2 p < 0.001). There were 5.3, 1.9, 6.5, and 7.5% basic science articles, respectively (χ2 p = 0.007). The average percentage of observational articles was 68.2 and that of experimental articles was 14.1. The percentages of total articles classified as controlled experimental were 10.9 (AJOG), 14.6 (O&G), 5.1 (GO), and 15.2 (F&S) (χ2 p = 0.01). There were 8.7, 11.1, 3.3 and 9.5% randomized controlled trials, respectively (χ2 p = 0.008). Conclusions: The majority of research reviewed was clinical, and more than half of the articles were observational. Under the US Preventative Services Task Force rating system, the randomized control trial is given the highest rating – class I evidence. The drive toward evidence-based clinical practice may not be fully supported by researchers in obstetrics and gynecology, as reflected by submissions to and publications in the major obstetrics and gynecology journals.

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  1. US Preventative Services Task Force: Guide to Clinical Preventative Services. Baltimore, Williams & Wilkins, 1989.
  2. Grimes DA: Introducing evidence-based medicine into a department of obstetrics and gynecology. Obstet Gynecol 1995;86:451–457.
  3. Hulley SB, Cummings SR: Designing Clinical Research: An Epidemiologic Approach. Philadelphia, Williams & Wilkins, 1988.
  4. Funai EF: Obstetrics & Gynecology in 1996: Marking the progress toward evidence-based medicine by classifying studies based on methodology. Obstet Gynecol 1997;90:1020–1022.
  5. Neinstein LS: A review of Society for Adolescent Medicine abstracts and Journal of Adolescent Health Care articles. J Adolesc Health Care 1987;8:198–203.

    External Resources

  6. Singer AJ, Homan CS, Brody M, Thode HC Jr, Hollander JE: Evolution of abstracts presented at the annual scientific meetings of academic emergency medicine. Am J Emerg Med 1999;17:638–641.
  7. Carroli G, Belizan J, Stamp G: Episiotomy for vaginal birth. Birth 1999;26:263.

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