Blinding in Rehabilitation Research: Empirical evidence on the association between blinding and treatment effect estimates

Susan Armijo-Olivo, Liz Dennett, Chiara Arienti, Mustafa Dahchi, Jari Arokoski, Allen Heinemann, Antti Malmivaara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: To assess the association between different types of blinding on treatment effects estimates in the area of rehabilitation.

METHODS: Design.

EVIDENCE SYNTHESIS: This study included any systematic review or meta-epidemiological study that investigated associations between any blinding component and treatment effects estimates in RCTs in the area of rehabilitation. The information obtained from the included studies was organized by type of blinding and summarized using a narrative and/or quantitaive approach when possible. If there was enough data of estimates for any type of blinding, we decided to pool them in an exploratory fashion.

RESULTS: The literature search identified a total of 1,015 citations, of which 7 studies fulfilled the inclusion criteria. Studies show overestimation, underestimation, or neutral associations for different types of blinding on treatment effects.

CONCLUSIONS: Associations were mixed and did not follow a consistent pattern. Lack/poor reporting of blinding, small sample sizes, and heterogeneity of datasets could have led to nonsignificant and inconsistent results obtained by the included studies. Although the evidence regarding the association between blinding and treatment effect estimates is still inconclusive in the rehabilitation field, based on the available literature, researchers should select creative solutions to avoid performance and detection bias.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAmerican journal of physical medicine & rehabilitation
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Jan 6 2020

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