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Discrepancies Between Meeting Abstracts and Subsequent Full Text Publications in Hand Surgery
Todd A. Theman, M.D., Brian I. Labow, M.D., Amir Taghinia, M.D..
Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, MA, USA.

Background: Research abstracts presented during the proceedings of an annual meeting are often cited and can influence practice, yet it is unknown how often the results or conclusions of studies presented at hand surgery meetings change when compared to the subsequent publication. The objective of this study was to quantify the differences between abstracts presented during the annual meeting of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand (ASSH) and the resulting manuscripts.
Methods: We retrospectively reviewed every abstract presented at the ASSH annual meeting from 2000-2010. We searched the PubMed database for matching publications and compared authorship, country of origin, hypothesis, design or methods, changes in study groups or populations, and results and conclusions.
Results: Of the 798 total abstracts, we analyzed the 719 involving the hand, wrist, and brachial plexus. 56 different journals published 393 of the abstracts for a 49.2% publication rate. The most common journal was the Journal of Hand Surgery American (212 publications, 54%), followed by The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery (51, 13%), Journal of Hand Therapy (11, 2.8%), Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (11, 2.8%) and the Journal of Hand Surgery European volume (10, 2.5%). Mean time to publication was 18.2 months with a median of 13.8 and maximum of 122 months. 36 (4.5%) of the full-text studies were published prior to or the same month the meeting took place. There were, on average, 3.6 authors per abstract. 69.6% of the abstracts were U.S. origin only, 26.8% non-U.S. only, and 3.7% a U.S./non-U.S. combination. There were inconsistencies between the results or conclusions in 14.2% of papers compared to the abstract presented at the meeting. 8.9% of papers were published with fewer subjects. Authorships changes were found in 53.7% of publications. Conclusions: Abstracts represent preliminary investigations and major and minor changes do occur prior to subsequent publication. Caution should be exercised in referencing abstracts or altering clinical practice based on their content.

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