Guidelines for reporting research on complementary and integrative medicine therapies

Reporting research bookshelves

The adequate reporting of research methods and results is an important part of the research enterprise, and many specific guidelines have been developed during the past two decades. Guidelines for reporting can clarify what was done. They can also be used indirectly to guide the planning and conduct of the research.

General guidelines for reporting research studies include STROBE (for reporting of observational studies), CONSORT (for reporting randomized controlled trials), and PRISMA (for reporting of systematic reviews). Note that PRISMA was updated in 2020; more information on the updated checklist can be found here and a Shiny app is available here. There are also reporting guidelines for different stages of research (e.g., protocols), different types of publication (e.g., conference abstracts), and different topics (e.g., psychology) or methods (e.g., case reports). 

CONSORT reporting guidelines that are of particular interest for researchers reporting or using randomized trials of complementary and integrative medicine include the CONSORT extension for Chinese Herbal Medicine formulas, the CONSORT extension for acupuncture interventions, the CONSORT extension for herbal medicine interventions, the CONSORT extension for non-pharmacological interventions and the CONSORT extension for moxibustion (proposed). Additional reporting guidelines that are not named as CONSORT guidelines but have been developed in a systematic fashion include guidelines for reporting yoga interventions (CLARIFY), guidelines for reporting music interventions, the Standards of Reporting Kampo Products (STORK) and The STandards for Reporting Interventions in Clinical Trials Of Tuina/Massage (STRICTOTM).

The website of the EQUATOR (Enhancing the QUAlity and Transparency Of health Research) Network is an excellent resource for links to reporting guidelines, including guidelines translated into languages other than English. When drafting a research paper, authors are advised to check the EQUATOR website for any reporting guidelines that may be relevant to the topic and type of study being reported.