Quality of reporting of multivariable logistic regression models in Chinese clinical medical journals

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Multivariable logistic regression (MLR) has been increasingly used in Chinese clinical medical research during the past few years. However, few evaluations of the quality of the reporting strategies in these studies are available.

To evaluate the reporting quality and model accuracy of MLR used in published work, and related advice for authors, readers, reviewers, and editors.

A total of 316 articles published in 5 leading Chinese clinical medical journals with high impact factor from January 2010 to July 2015 were selected for evaluation. Articles were evaluated according 12 established criteria for proper use and reporting of MLR models.

Among the articles, the highest quality score was 9, the lowest 1, and the median 5 (4–5). A total of 85.1% of the articles scored below 6. No significant differences were found among these journals with respect to quality score (χ2 = 6.706, P = .15). More than 50% of the articles met the following 5 criteria: complete identification of the statistical software application that was used (97.2%), calculation of the odds ratio and its confidence interval (86.4%), description of sufficient events (>10) per variable, selection of variables, and fitting procedure (78.2%, 69.3%, and 58.5%, respectively). Less than 35% of the articles reported the coding of variables (18.7%). The remaining 5 criteria were not satisfied by a sufficient number of articles: goodness-of-fit (10.1%), interactions (3.8%), checking for outliers (3.2%), collinearity (1.9%), and participation of statisticians and epidemiologists (0.3%). The criterion of conformity with linear gradients was applicable to 186 articles; however, only 7 (3.8%) mentioned or tested it.

The reporting quality and model accuracy of MLR in selected articles were not satisfactory. In fact, severe deficiencies were noted. Only 1 article scored 9. We recommend authors, readers, reviewers, and editors to consider MLR models more carefully and cooperate more closely with statisticians and epidemiologists. Journals should develop statistical reporting guidelines concerning MLR.

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