Heterogeneity in application, design and analysis characteristics was found for controlled before-after (CBA) and interrupted time series (ITS) studies included in Cochrane reviews

Stephanie Polus, Dawid Pieper, Jacob Burns, Atle Fretheim, Craig Ramsay, Julian PT. Higgins, Tim Mathes, Lisa M. Pfadenhauer, Eva A. Rehfuess

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

13 Citations (Scopus)
345 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Objective

To examine the application, design and analysis characteristics of controlled before-after (CBA) and interrupted time series (ITS) studies and their use in Cochrane reviews.

Study Design and Setting

We searched the Cochrane library for reviews including these study designs from May 2012 - March 2015 and purposively selected, where available, two reviews each across ten pre-specified intervention types. We randomly selected two CBA and two ITS studies from each review. Two researchers independently extracted information from the studies and the respective reviews.

Results

69 reviews considered CBA and ITS studies for inclusion. We analysed 21 CBA and 16 ITS studies from 11 and 8 reviews respectively. Cochrane reviews inconsistently defined and labelled CBA and ITS studies. Many studies did not meet the Cochrane definition or the minimum criteria provided by Cochrane EPOC. The studies present a heterogeneous set of study features and applied a large variety of analyses.

Conclusion

While CBA and ITS studies represent important study designs to evaluate the effects of interventions, especially on a population or organisational level, unclear study design features challenge unequivocal classification and appropriate use. We discuss options for more specific definitions and explicit criteria for CBA and ITS studies.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Clinical Epidemiology
Early online date25 Jul 2017
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 Jul 2017

Keywords

  • (index-appropriate): Controlled Before-After Studies
  • Interrupted Time Series Analysis
  • review
  • methods
  • Public Health

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