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More Informative Abstracts Revisited
  1. R. Brian Haynes, M.D., PH.D.,
  2. Douglas G. Altman, B.SC.,
  3. Cynthia D. Mulrow, M.D., M.SC.,
  4. Martin J. Gardner, PH.D. and
  5. Edward J. Huth, M.D.
  1. From McMaster University Faculty of Health Sciences, Hamilton, Ontario; Health Science Center at San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas; American College of Physicians, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Imperial Cancer Research Fund Laboratories, London, United Kingdom; and Southampton General Hospital, Southampton, United Kingdom


Following proposals in 1987 and 1988, several medical journals have provided more informative abstracts (“structured abstracts”) for articles of clinical interest. Structured abstracts for original studies require authors to systematically disclose the objective, basic research design, clinical setting, participants, interventions (if any), main outcome measurements, results, and conclusions; and for literature reviews the objective, data sources, methods of study selection, data extraction and synthesis, and conclusions. More informative abstracts of this kind can facilitate peer review before publication, assist clinical readers to find articles that are both scientifically sound and applicable to their practices, and allow more precise computerized literature searches. We review the feasibility, acceptability, and dissemination of structured abstracts, reassess the underlying strategy, and describe modifications of the approach. This innovation can aid communication from scientists to clinicians, and other clinical journals are invited to join this effort.

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