Assessing the quality of randomized controlled trials: an annotated bibliography of scales and checklists.
Assessing the quality of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) is important and relatively new. Quality gives us an estimate of the likelihood that the results are a valid estimate of the truth. We present an annotated bibliography of scales and checklists developed to assess quality. Twenty-five scales and nine checklists have been developed to assess quality. The checklists are most useful in providing investigators with guidelines as to what information should be included in reporting RCTs. The scales give readers a quantitative index of the likelihood that the reported methodology and results are free of bias. There are several shortcomings with these scales. Future scale development is likely to be most beneficial if questions common to all trials are assessed, if the scale is easy to use, and if it is developed with sufficient rigor.