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Title: Review: Assessment of completeness of reporting in intervention studies using livestock: an example from pain mitigation interventions in neonatal piglets

item O'CONNOR, ANNETTE - Iowa State University
item ANTHONY, RAYMOND - University Of Alaska
item BERGAMASCO, LUCIANA - Virginia Tech
item COETZEE, JOHAN - Iowa State University
item DZIKAMUNHENGA, RUNGANO - Iowa State University
item JOHNSON, ANNA - Iowa State University
item KARRIKER, LOCKE - Iowa State University
item Marchant, Jeremy
item MARTINEAU, GUY-PIERRE - National Veterinary School Of Toulouse, France
item MILLMAN, SUZANNE - Iowa State University
item PAJOR, EDMOND - University Of Calgary
item RUTHERFORD, KENNETH - Sruc-Scotland'S Rural College
item SPRAGUE, MICHELLE - Iowa State University
item SUTHERLAND, MHAIRI - Agresearch
item VON BORELL, EBERHARD - Martin Luther University
item WEBB, SHERRIE - National Pork Board

Submitted to: Animal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/3/2015
Publication Date: 11/11/2016
Citation: O'Connor, A., Anthony, R., Bergamasco, L., Coetzee, J., Dzikamunhenga, R.S., Johnson, A.K., Karriker, L.A., Marchant Forde, J.N., Martineau, G.S., Millman, S.T., Pajor, E.A., Rutherford, K., Sprague, M., Sutherland, M., Von Borell, E., Webb, S. 2016. Review: Assessment of completeness of reporting in intervention studies using livestock: an example from pain mitigation interventions in neonatal piglets. Animal. 10(4): 660-670. doi: 10.1017/S1751731115002323.

Interpretive Summary: The ultimate purpose of animal welfare research is to expand knowledge and produce results that can be applied to improve the welfare of animals. These research studies are costly, both in terms of money and time and any study that involves animal use, should be ethically justified. In order for the knowledge that the study will generate to be valid, there are a great number of details across the many stages of an experiment that need to be considered, before, during and after the carrying out of the study. One area that is often not given the attention it deserves, is the reporting. The purpose of full reporting is not only to present results to the broader scientific community, but also to give sufficient detail of the materials and methods to allow duplication of the study if necessary, and the further comparison, interpretation and application of the data towards a given issue. Data from different reported studies on the same or similar issue, can be combined and further analyzed using a meta-analysis to potentially identify patterns or relationships in a collective set of data, and enable us to draw more certain conclusions about a given issue. We carried out a meta-analysis to investigate the effects of administering pain relief during such piglet management procedures as castration and tail-docking and found that within the published literature, the quality of reporting was seriously flawed, thereby reducing our ability to either include the data from some studies or draw firm conclusions that certain methods of pain relief actually work. This current paper highlights the areas that need to be well-reported in an experimental write-up so that the data presented within it can be considered valid and the analysis, interpretation of results and conclusions will be of high reliability. Animal welfare researchers should make every effort to report their work effectively so that their animal use remains ethically acceptable and so that finances and time are spent positively.

Technical Abstract: Accurate and complete reporting of study methods, results, and interpretation are essential components of the scientific process, allowing end-users to evaluate the internal and external validity of a study. Several reporting guidelines are now publicly available for animal researchers including the REFLECT statement and the ARRIVE guidelines. Our primary objective was to assess completeness of reporting for a series of studies relevant to mitigation of pain in neonatal piglets undergoing routine management procedures. Our second objective was to illustrate how authors can report the items in the REFLECT statement using examples from the animal welfare literature. Fifty-two studies from 40 articles were evaluated using a modified REFLECT statement. No single study reported all REFLECT checklist items. Seven studies reported specific objectives with testable hypotheses. Six studies identified primary or secondary outcomes. Randomization and blinding was considered to be partially reported in 21 and 18 studies respectively. No studies reported the rationale for sample sizes with several studies failing to report key design features such as units for measurement, means, and standard deviations, standard errors for continuous outcomes or comparative characteristics for categorical outcomes expressed as either rates or proportions. In the discipline of animal welfare, authors, reviewers, and editors are encouraged to use available reporting guidelines to ensure that scientific methods and results are adequately described and free of misrepresentations and inaccuracies. Complete and accurate reporting increases the ability to apply the results of studies to the decision making process and prevent wastage of financial and animal resources.