OBJECTIVE: To describe characteristics of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) conducted using electronic health records (EHRs), including completeness and transparency of reporting assessed against the 2021 CONSORT Extension for RCTs Conducted Using Cohorts and Routinely Collected Data (CONSORT-ROUTINE) criteria.
STUDY DESIGN: MEDLINE and Cochrane Methodology Register were searched for a sample of RCTs published from 2011-2018. Completeness of reporting was assessed in a random sample using a pre-defined coding form.
RESULTS: Of the 183 RCT publications identified, 122 (67%) used EHRs to identify eligible participants, 139 (76%) used the EHR as part of the intervention and 137 (75%) to ascertain outcomes. When 60 publications were evaluated against the CONSORT 2010 item and the corresponding extension for the 8 modified items, four items were 'adequately reported' for most trials. Five new reporting items were identified for the CONSORT-ROUTINE extension; when evaluated, one was 'adequately reported', three were reported 'inadequately or not at all', the other 'partially'. There were, however, some encouraging signs with adequate and partial reporting of many important items, including descriptions of trial design, the consent process, outcome ascertainment and interpretation.
CONCLUSION: Aspects of RCTs using EHRs are sub-optimally reported. Uptake of the CONSORT-ROUTINE Extension may improve reporting.