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Table 1 (abstract P25). Actual forms of spin in clinical studies evaluating performance of biomarkers in ovarian cancer with examples

From: Methods for Evaluation of medical prediction Models, Tests And Biomarkers (MEMTAB) 2018 Symposium

Category of spin Type of spin Criteria Spin frequency, n = 200
n (%) [95% CI]
Misrepresentation
a. 1
Incorrect presentation of results in the abstract or main text conclusion Abstract conclusion OR main text conclusion for BM’s clinical performance is not in accordance with or is stronger than results justify.
Actual spin if all the following:
a. Exaggerating the performance of the BM in the conclusion despite low performance measures reported in the results;
b. Claiming effect of the BM despite statistically non-significant results;
c. Claiming effect despite not providing imprecision or statistical test (confidence interval or P values) between different biomarker models tested or patient groups (subgroups);
40 (20% [15% - 26%])
Frequency in abstract conclusion:
14 (7% [4% - 12%])
Frequency in main text conclusion:
37 (18.5% [14% - 25%])
a. 2 Mismatch between results reported in abstract and main text Results reported in the abstract is not in accordance with results reported in main text.
Actual spin if all the following:
a. Results reported in the abstract contains statement in which statistical significance is claimed, despite not providing imprecision or test of significant (CI or p-values) in results reported in the main text;
b. Selective reporting of statistically significant outcomes in the abstract compared to the results reported in the main text;
c. Results reported in the abstract that do not match results provided in the main text;
33 (16.5% [12% - 23%])
a. 3 Mismatch between results reported and the title The title contains wording misrepresenting BM’s clinical performance compared to results in the main text; 11 (5.5% [3% - 10%])
Misinterpretation
a. 4
Other purposes of biomarker claimed not pre-specified and/or investigated Abstract conclusion OR main text conclusion contains statement suggesting BM purposes not pre-specified and/or investigated. Total: 65 (32.5% [26% - 40%])
Frequency in abstract conclusion:
36 (20.5% [13% - 24%])
Frequency in main text conclusion:
60 (30% [24% - 37%])
a. 5 Mismatch between intended aim and abstract or main text conclusion Abstract conclusion OR main text conclusion for BM’s clinical performance is stronger than study design.
Actual spin if all the following:
a. The main text conclusion contains statement in which BM utility is claimed despite not evaluating clinical effectiveness (i.e. useful);
b. The main text conclusion contains statement in which BM performance improvement is claimed despite not evaluating incremental measures (i.e. improve);
c. The main text conclusion contains statement that uses causal language for BM(s) being assessed despite the use of a nonrandomized design;
Total: 57 (28.5% [23% - 35%])
Frequency in abstract conclusion:
41 (20.5% [15% - 27%])
Frequency in main text conclusion:
31 (15.5% [11% - 21%])
a. 6 Other benefits of BM claimed not pre-specified and/or investigated The main text conclusion contains statement claiming BM benefits not pre-specified and/or investigated. 10 (5% [3% - 9%])
a. 7 Extrapolation from study participants to a larger or a different population The main text conclusion contains statement that extrapolates BM’s clinical performance to a larger or a different population, not supported by recruited subjects. 10 (5% [3% - 9%])
  1. * All results presented in abstract and main text, excluding supplementary material.
  2. **Abbreviations: BM, biomarker; HR, hazard ratio; OS, overall survival; PFS, progression-free survival.