The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2288-14-43) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
All authors declare that none of the authors (Hooijmans, Rovers, de Vries, Leenaars, Ritskes-Hoitinga, Langendam) have anything to disclose or any competing interests. The authors had no support from any organization for the submitted work; no financial relationships with any organizations that might have an interest in the submitted work in the previous three years, no other relationships or activities that could appear to have influenced the submitted work.
CRH coordinated the project. CRH, MWL and MMR have made substantial contributions to the design of the RoB tool, article conception and wrote the first draft of the paper. MRH, ML and RdV provided advice on bias in animal studies (part of the discussion group). MRH and RdV revised the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
Systematic Reviews (SRs) of experimental animal studies are not yet common practice, but awareness of the merits of conducting such SRs is steadily increasing. As animal intervention studies differ from randomized clinical trials (RCT) in many aspects, the methodology for SRs of clinical trials needs to be adapted and optimized for animal intervention studies. The Cochrane Collaboration developed a Risk of Bias (RoB) tool to establish consistency and avoid discrepancies in assessing the methodological quality of RCTs. A similar initiative is warranted in the field of animal experimentation.
We provide an RoB tool for animal intervention studies (SYRCLE’s RoB tool). This tool is based on the Cochrane RoB tool and has been adjusted for aspects of bias that play a specific role in animal intervention studies. To enhance transparency and applicability, we formulated signalling questions to facilitate judgment.
The resulting RoB tool for animal studies contains 10 entries. These entries are related to selection bias, performance bias, detection bias, attrition bias, reporting bias and other biases. Half these items are in agreement with the items in the Cochrane RoB tool. Most of the variations between the two tools are due to differences in design between RCTs and animal studies. Shortcomings in, or unfamiliarity with, specific aspects of experimental design of animal studies compared to clinical studies also play a role.
SYRCLE’s RoB tool is an adapted version of the Cochrane RoB tool. Widespread adoption and implementation of this tool will facilitate and improve critical appraisal of evidence from animal studies. This may subsequently enhance the efficiency of translating animal research into clinical practice and increase awareness of the necessity of improving the methodological quality of animal studies.
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- SYRCLE’s risk of bias tool for animal studies
Carlijn R Hooijmans
Maroeska M Rovers
Rob BM de Vries
Miranda W Langendam
- BioMed Central
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