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Submission Preparation Checklist

As part of the submission process, authors are required to check off their submission's compliance with all of the following items, and submissions may be returned to authors that do not adhere to these guidelines.
  • The submission has not been previously published, nor is it before another journal for consideration (or an explanation has been provided in Comments to the Editor).
  • The manuscript file is in OpenOffice or Microsoft Word document file format.
  • All figures must be provided in a fully editable format for the purposes of editing, translation, such as Excel files for graphs. Submit illustrations, phylogenetic trees and maps as an editable pdf, PowerPoint or Visio.
  • All authors must meet requirements for authorship according to ICMJE.
  • The text adheres to the stylistic and and bibliohraphic requirements outlined in CCDR's Information for Authors.
  • Authors must fill out and include an ICMJE Conflict of Interest declaration form with their submission.

Author Guidelines

Detailed information for authors are published on CCDR's Government of Canada website, or you can click here for a downloadable PDF.

Commentary

Commentaries are opinion papers that are designed to stimulate thinking and debate. They identify an issue, place it in a larger context and then offer some insights to educate, motivate or formulate an opinion. They are typically 1,000-1,500 words in length and have 10-15 references.

Commentaries have an engaging title and a text abstract of 150- 200 words.

The introduction is typically two to four paragraphs that identify an issue and state why it is important. The introduction articulates a position and outlines the key arguments to support that position.

The body of the commentary is five to eight paragraphs and provides an analysis of the issue. A paragraph or two can be provided to develop each of the arguments and consider strengths, weaknesses (or counter-arguments) as well as policy and practice implications. Assertions are supported with key references. Examples may be used to illustrate or support a point. A table summarizing key information may be useful.

The conclusion is one or two paragraphs. It highlights the key message of the commentary and provides recommendations for moving forward or next steps.

As with all submissions, check CCDR's Information for authors (published in January every year with the first issue of each new volume) for general aspects of manuscript preparation and submission requirements.

Epidemiologic study

Includes cohort and case-control studies on infectious diseases as per the Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology (STROBE) guidelines.

Implementation Science

A reporting guide for implementation science articles

Correspondence: ccdr-rmtc@phac-aspc.gc.ca

Suggested citation: A reporting guide for implementation science articles. Can Comm Dis Rep 2016;42:175-6.

Many health and public health practitioners are interested in "what's new"—how evidence can be applied to practice and what works. Implementation science has been described as the scientific study of methods to promote the uptake of research findings into routine healthcare in clinical, organizational or policy contextsFootnote1. In the Canada Communicable Disease Report (CCDR), this can include any process, procedure, policy or program designed to decrease the human impact of an infectious disease.

There is often a gap between the positive findings of an experimental study and outcomes in practice. This is in part because effective implementation is difficult. It requires significant knowledge, skills and effort to assess, plan, adapt, deliver, monitor and evaluate an intervention. Implementation science aims to understand and decrease the gap between evidence and practice. Excellent manuals have been developed, such as one by the RAND CorporationFootnote2 and a variety of theoretical models have been proposed and are being testedFootnote3,Footnote4. These have revealed that multiple factors are at play. For example, a systematic review identified that evidence-based clinical practice guidelines were almost three times more likely to be adopted if they were supported by a facilitator who used strategies such as audit and feedback, as well as interactive consensus building and goal settingFootnote5. Clearly, implementation is both an art and a science.

Because there has been little guidance available to date for reporting implementation science articles, the CCDR has developed a 20-item checklist based on the literature and best practice in scientific communications. This checklist identifies the need to describe what is being implemented and why, who is being targeted and where, how the implementation was done, what the outcomes were, what lessons were learned and potential next steps (Table 1).

An implementation science paper is usually 1,500 to 2,000 words in length. As with all submissions, check CCDR's Information for authors, published at the beginning of a new volume in January of each year for general manuscript preparation and submission requirementsFootnote6.

Table 1: Checklist for implementation science papers
Reporting item No. Description
Title/Abstract
Title 1 Compose a title that includes the population, condition or primary issue addressed in the study.
Abstract 2 Provide a 200 to 250-word abstract using the following sub-headings: Background, Objective, Intervention, Outcomes and Conclusion.
Introduction
Issue identification 3 Identify the topic of the study and why it is important.
What is known to date 4 Provide a summary of the literature relating to the topic and identify any existing gaps.
Rationale for study 5 Identify the rationale for the implementation study.
Objective 6 State the objective of the intervention.
Intervention
Setting/participants 7 Describe the setting and population used for the implementation study, and the rationale for both.
Ethics review if indicated 8 For studies involving human participants, include a statement detailing ethical approval and consent.
Intervention 9 Describe the intervention and how it was carried out. If applicable, state who offered the intervention, how participants were enlisted, what efforts were made to adapt the intervention to local needs, enabling factors and any training given.
Outcome measures 10 Describe how the intervention was assessed. This may include descriptive statistics about the participants (or target population) as well as primary and secondary outcome measures. If appropriate, describe the analyses conducted to examine sub-groups, interactions and confounding factors.
Outcomes
Setting/participants 11 Present the findings in enough detail to give a sense of the participants or target population, time and place.
Primary outcomes 12 Present the primary outcome measure and any secondary outcome measures or observations.
Secondary outcomes 13 Provide any sub-group analysis, interactions or confounding factors if applicable.
Intervention experience 14 Describe any insights that arose as a result of implementing the intervention.
Discussion
Summary of key findings 15 Summarize and interpret the key findings of the intervention and its implementation.
Comparisons 16 Compare the results of the intervention with previous findings (such as how the intervention was implemented in different populations or settings).
Strengths and limitations 17 Identify the strengths and limitations of the intervention and its implementation in the study.
Implications and next steps 18 Consider implications and next steps or further areas of inquiry (such as a more in depth evaluation, assessment in other contexts, potential for scale-up and sustainability).
Conclusion 19 Ensure the conclusion integrates the key findings and addresses the objective of the study.
Tables or figures
Illustrating key points 20 When appropriate, include an illustrative diagram or table summarizing key points.

Abbreviation: No., Number

Eyewitness Reports

Provides a first-hand practice-based account and insights about the prevention, detection or management of an infectious disease.

(1,000-1,500 words)

Outbreak Report

Outbreak reporting guide

Outbreak reports describe an outbreak once it is complete. They summarize how the outbreak was detected, the investigations that were conducted, the interventions that were carried out to control it, provide descriptive epidemiology and outcomes. They are useful to identify emerging risks and to describe new investigations or intervention techniques. Outbreak reports are typically 2,000- 2,500 words in length - excluding the abstract, tables and references.

The Canada Communicable Disease Report (CCDR) has adapted the Outbreak Reports and Intervention studies Of Nosocomial infection (ORION) reporting guidelineFootnote1 for community-based outbreaks.

Table 1 provides an outbreak report checklist and Figure 1 illustrates an example of an epidemic curve, or histogram in which the number of new cases of a disease is plotted against an interval of time to describe a specific outbreak.
As with all submissions, check CCDR's Information for authors (typically published in January every year with the first issue of each new volume) for general manuscript preparation and submission requirements.

Checklist of items to include when reporting on an outbreak
Reporting item No1 Description
Title
Title 1 Compose a title that includes the term “outbreak”, the disease, population or place and time.
Abstract
Structured summary 2 Use a structured format for the abstract with the following section headings: Background, Objective, Methods, Outcome and Conclusions.
Introduction
Setting 3 Describe the setting (community, hospital, etc.) where the outbreak occurred.
Identification 4 Describe the events that led to the discovery of the index case of the outbreak.
Background 5 Provide the scientific context (e.g., describe the organism and whether it is emerging, epidemic, endemic etc.).
Rationale 6 Identify the clinical and public health rationale to report outbreak (e.g., need for heightened awareness, demonstration of a new investigation or intervention technique).
Objective 7 Articulate the objective of the outbreak report. (e.g., “The objective of this report is to describe the epidemiological, diagnostic and genetic investigation of the outbreak that occurred in --).
Method
Overview 8 Identify the start and finish dates of the outbreak and the date the investigations began. Describe how the end date was determined including the incubation period and date of the last reported case.
Case finding and data collection 9 Provide the case definitions (including confirmed, probable and under investigation if applicable).
10 Describe data collection activities (for person, time and place) including any questionnaire development (clinical history, risk factor assessment).
Investigations 11 Provide a systematic description of how the outbreak was investigated including
  • Laboratory investigations, and
  • Environmental sampling.
Epidemiologic and statistical analyses 12 Describe any analytical methods used assess the outbreak (e.g., risk factor analysis, survival analysis, estimation of background rates).
13 Reference any complex analytical methods used (e.g., social network analysis, estimation of R0).
14 Include any sub-group analyses, what was done to control for interactions and confounding factors and how missing data and reporting delays were addressed.
Interventions 15 Describe the clinical and public health measures that were put in place to control the outbreak including as applicable including
  • Exposure history,
  • Health risk assessment,
  • Clinical treatments, and
  • Public health measures (e.g., quarantine, contact tracing, surveillance, immunization clinics, risk communications etc.).
Results
Descriptive epidemiology 16 Provide an overview of what happened by person, time and place.
Ancillary analyses 17 Provide subgroup analyses and describe the assessment of interactions and confounders as indicated.
Complications 18 Identify any complications, such as hospitalizations and deaths.
Epidemic curve 19 Provide a figure showing the epidemic curve. In the title include the disease, population/place and time (year).
Frequency table 20 Include a table with demographic characteristics (e.g., age and sex) and symptom frequency, if applicable.
Discussion
Key results 21 Summarize key findings that relate to the report objective, highlighting the new or important aspects of the outbreak and their significance.
Comparison 22 Consider these findings in relation to the current literature.
Strengths and weaknesses 23 Identify strengths and weaknesses of the outbreak investigation and response.
Conclusion 24 Ensure conclusions address objective and follow from the results.

No: Number

Figure 1: Example of an epidemic curve for a measles outbreakFootnote2

Figure 1

Text equivalent for figure 1Example of an epidemic curve for a measles outbreak

This is a histogram showing the distribution of 42 confirmed cases in a measles outbreak that occurred in Alberta between October 16 to November 25, 2013. Cases are identified by date of rash onset. There are 13 days when a single case of measles was identified. There are 17 days when no cases were identified, and 11 days when two to four cases were identified. There are two peaks in the outbreak: four cases were reported on October 27 and on November 16, approximately one third and three-quarters of the way through the outbreak.

Overview

A reporting guide for overviews

Correspondence: ccdr-rmtc@phac-aspc.gc.ca

Suggested citation: A reporting guide for overviews. Can Comm Dis Rep 2016;42:179-80.

Overviews are useful to explore a new area, summarize the state of evidence on a broad topic, and provide insight into the progression of a body of research. Because evidence in clinical and public health evolves rapidly, an expert summary and assessment can be extremely valuable. For example, what are the challenges in eliminating pediatric HIV infectionFootnote1? Or what is the current evidence regarding prion disease, which was once thought to be extremely rare, but have now been linked to a much broader group of protein-misfolding disorders that may be more common than previously thoughtFootnote2? An overview by an expert in the field can provide a useful introduction to emerging issues as well as a framework to better understand subsequent developmentsFootnote3.

Overviews are not underdeveloped systematic reviews. Systematic reviews are best for specific topicsFootnote 4. For example, as systematic review is often used to analyze the evidence on the effectiveness of a specific drug for a specific condition in a specific population. Overviews are best for general topics. A systematic review is research that puts evidence under a microscope; an overview is an evidence-based expert opinion that scans a body of evidence with binoculars.

The potential weakness of an overview is bias. Readers need to be assured that the evidence summarized is fair and accurate, not inappropriately selective. A multi-database literature search with the support of a research librarian can help address thisFootnote5 as will a transparent analysis. The goal of an overview is not to provide the highest level of evidence, but rather to summarize, analyze and edify.

Because we are unaware of any reporting guidelines for an overview paper, the Canada Communicable Disease Report (CCDR) has developed a 16-itemchecklist based on the literature and best practice in scientific communications. This checklist identifies the need to address a topic in a way that is logical, balanced and insightful, including the consideration of contradictory evidence, strengths and limitations, and potential next steps (Table 1).

An overview is generally 1,500 to 2,000 words in length. As with all submissions, check CCDR's Information for authors, published at the beginning of each volume in January of each year for general manuscript preparation and submission requirementsFootnote6.

Table 1: Checklist for overview papers
Reporting item No. Description
Title/Abstract
Title 1 Compose a title that includes the population, condition or primary issue addressed in the overview.
Abstract 2 Provide a 200 to 250-word abstract that identifies the issue, why it is important, the objective of the overview, key points and a conclusion.
Introduction
Issue identification 3 Identify the topic of the study and why it is important.
Rationale for study 4 Identify the rationale for providing an overview.
Objective 5 Clearly articulate the objective of the overview.
Scope
Setting/population 6 Describe the setting or populations identified for the overview.
Approach 7 Identify any decision points about what to include or not include in the overview and the rationale.
Literature search 8 Identify any literature searches conducted to address potential bias.
Key findings
Population, time and place 9 When applicable, present the findings in enough detail to provide a sense of the population, time and place.
Logical, balanced and insightful analysis 10 Present an analysis that demonstrates how the overview clearly addresses the stated objective; is logical, includes countervailing evidence when indicated to provide a balanced view, and provides an expert interpretation of the literature.
Supported with references 11 Support assertions and facts with appropriate references.
Discussion
Summary of key findings 12 Summarize key finding and indicate how the findings are relevant to the objective of the study.
Comparative analysis 13 Explore corroborative findings and consider contradictory evidence (if available).
Strengths and limitations 14 Identify the strengths and limitations of the state of knowledge for the overview topic.
Next steps 15 Propose next steps or further areas for inquiry.
Conclusion 16 Ensure the conclusion integrates the key findings and addresses the objective of the study.

Abbreviation: No., Number

Qualitative Studies

A reporting guide for qualitative studies

Correspondence: ccdr-rmtc@phac-aspc.gc.ca

Suggested citation: A reporting guide for qualitative studies. Can Comm Dis Rep 2016;42:177-8.

Qualitative studies provide insight into complex phenomena. Unlike measurement-based studies which typically quantify what happens under experimental conditions, qualitative studies often help explain behaviors or perceptions under actual circumstances. Qualitative studies in the field of communicable diseases can be used to provide insight into why people choose high-risk behaviours and to identify the factors that influence their decisions. For example, a qualitative study may address why healthcare practitioners do not practice adequate hand hygiene and whether patients might help by reminding them to do so. The results can be surprising. For example, a recent study identified that inpatients in one hospital who were most dissatisfied with the care they received were also the least likely to ask healthcare professionals if they had washed their handsFootnote1. Furthermore, the study identified that the decision not to pose this question was linked to patient awareness that staff satisfaction was low.

Qualitative research analyzes data from direct field observations, in-depth, open-ended interviews and written documents. Inductive analyses yield patterns and themes that generate hypotheses and offer a basis for future research. Although qualitative studies do not create generalizable evidence, well-reported studies provide enough information for readers to assess the applicability or transferability of findings to their own contextFootnote2.

There are a variety of checklists about how to report qualitative studiesFootnote3,Footnote4,Footnote5,Footnote6. The Canada Communicable Disease Report (CCDR) has developed a 24-item checklist that synthesizes these including the COREQ checklist noted on the EQUATOR NetworkFootnote6. The CCDR checklist identifies the importance of describing how data was gathered and summarized, what trends were determined, exploring corroborative findings, offering alternative explanations and identifying possible next steps or further areas of inquiry (Table 1).

Reports of qualitative studies are usually around 2,500 words in length—excluding the abstract, tables and references. As with all submissions, check CCDR's Information for authors, published at the beginning of each volume in January of each year for general manuscript preparation and submission requirementsFootnote7.

Table 1: Checklist for qualitative studies
Reporting item No. Description
Title/Abstract
Title 1 Compose a title that includes the term "qualitative", the population, condition, place and time.
Abstract 2 Use a structured abstract format with the following section headings: Background, Objective, Methods, Findings and Conclusion.
Introduction
Issue identification 3 Identify the topic of the study and why it is important.
Review of literature 4 Provide a summary of the literature relating to the topic and what gaps there may be.
Rationale for study 5 Identify the rationale for the study. The rationale for the use of qualitative methods can be noted here or in the methods section.
Objective 6 Clearly articulate the objective of the study.
Ethics approval 7 Note here or in the methods section whether ethics board review was indicated, and if it was, where review and approval was obtained.
Method
Setting 8 Describe the setting of the study and the relationship of the researcher to study participants (if any).
Approach 9 Identify the qualitative methods (e.g., interviews, participant observation) used in the study, any theoretical underpinnings if appropriate (e.g., grounded theory) and the rationale for their use.
Populations 10 Describe the groups from which people were invited to participate in the study.
Sampling 11 Identify the sampling strategies for the study (e.g., theoretical sampling, snowball technique).
Data collection 12 Describe how data collection tools were developed (e.g., pilot testing of interview guides) and how the data were recorded (e.g., audio, audiovisual or field notes).
Analysis 13 Identify how the data were managed and analyzed, including any software system used, and how information was assessed for credibility and transferability (e.g., member checking, inter-observer reliability and triangulation).
Synthesis 14 Describe how the findings were synthesized (e.g., What were the principles and choices informing the recognition of patterns and formation of categories? How were major and minor themes developed?).
Findings
Sample 15 Identify the total sample size and non-participation rate.
Population, time and place 16 Present the findings in context, i.e., with enough background and contextual detail to give a sense of the population, time and place (e.g., through appropriate use of quotes).
Analysis 17 Present an analysis that is credible and compelling (i.e., themes flow logically from the findings; relations between data and theoretical models and perspectives are described; interpretations are insightful).
Comparisons 18 Explore corroborative findings (e.g., triangulation) and consider contradictory or diverse opinions (e.g., negative cases).
Synthesis 19 Present findings in such a way that they clearly address the research question(s).
Discussion
Summary or key findings 20 Summarize key findings and indicate how the findings are relevant to the objective of the study.
Strengths and weaknesses 21 Identify the strengths and weaknesses of the study and consider alternative explanations for the findings when appropriate.
Transferability 22 Explore the implications of the study considering the applicability or transferability of the findings.
Next steps 23 Propose next steps or further areas of inquiry.
Conclusion 24 Ensure the conclusion integrates the data and analysis and addresses the objective of the study.

Abbreviation: No., Number

Rapid Communication

A reporting guide for Rapid Communications

 

Correspondence: ccdr-rmtc@phac-aspc.gc.ca

Suggested citation: A reporting guide for Rapid Communications. Can Commun Dis Rep. 2017;43(9):182-3.

A Rapid Communication is a timely notification of a change in the nature or spread of an infectious disease. It is a “heads up” that something new is on the horizon that may have immediate implications. For example, in December 2013, the first local transmission of the mosquito-borne chikungunya virus was confirmed in several Caribbean islands. A month later, clinicians in Canada were advised to consider this possibility in patients presenting with fever and arthralgia who had a positive travel history from one of the affected islandsFootnote1. A year later, chikungunya virus had spread throughout the Caribbean and around the world and there was a documented spike in the number of travel-related cases of chikungunya virus in CanadaFootnote2. Soon after, a similar pattern of expansion occurred with Zika virusFootnote3.

A Rapid Communication can be a preliminary outbreak report or an alert of a change in disease severity, risk factor(s), transmission patterns, reservoir, geographic spread or susceptibility to available therapies. It is a summary of what is currently known, the epidemiology (who is affected), how it is detected, what investigations are needed to establish the diagnosis and what clinical and public health measures are indicated to address it. The difference between a Rapid Communication and an Outbreak Report is that Outbreak Reports are generally written after an outbreak is over. Rapid Communications are written soon after an outbreak begins or a change in disease activity is identified. Reports of this nature can sometimes be published as a Brief Communication if the implications are not of an urgent nature.

The strength of a Rapid Communicationits advisory nature of alerting people to something newis also its potential weakness, as some information may be lacking. If a new agent has been detected, information on incubation period, level of infectivity or even route of transmission may not be known. Early cases may not be representative of cases once the disease has spread. Therefore in the assessment section of a Rapid Communication, what is known and what is not yet known needs to be well-summarized.

The Canada Communicable Disease Report (CCDR) has developed a 16-item checklist for reporting on Rapid Communications based on best practices in scientific communications (Table 1). Such reports are generally 1,000 to 1,500 words in length. As with all submissions, check CCDR's Information for Authors for general manuscript preparation and submission requirementsFootnote4.

Table 1: Checklist for reporting on Rapid Communications
Reporting item Item # Description

Title/Summary

Title

1

Compose a title that includes the disease, population and/or place and time.

Summary

2

Develop a 150-word summary as an unstructured abstract.

Introduction

Issue identification

3

Identify the issue: What has happened (context, events)? What makes this important to report on now?

Current situation

Overview

4

Identify what is known to date: the setting, the date of onset and how and when it was identified.

Description of cases

5

Describe who has been affected, including presenting symptoms, demographic data (e.g., age, sex and where they were from) and any epidemiologic links among the casesin a way that respects patient confidentiality.

Epidemiologic curve

6

Provide an epidemiologic curve (if indicated).

Extent of the disease

7

Describe the extent and severity of the disease and outcomes to date (e.g., number of hospitalizations and deaths).

Investigations

8

Identify how the outbreak was investigated, including the laboratory tests that were conducted to identify the causative agent and the sample site(s).

Causative agent

9

Describe and summarize what is known to date on this agent.

Interventions

10

Describe the clinical measures that were put in place to treat and manage affected patients (e.g., infection prevention and control procedures and treatments).

11

Describe the public health measures that were put in place to control the outbreak (e.g., case definition, contact tracing, risk management, communications, etc.).

Conclusion

Assessment

12

Summarize what is known and identify what is not yet known (e.g., route of transmission, disease reservoir, estimated incubation period, risk factors and effectiveness of treatment).

13

Consider any relevant reference to previous or similar events.

Implications

14

Consider the implications of the outbreak for clinical practice, including any recommendations for case identification and management, infection control and reporting. Identify any sex or gender implications.

15

Consider the implications for public health practice including any recommendations for surveillance, prevention, risk management and communications.

Conclusion

16

Provide a wrap-up summary of what is known to date and the direction of future efforts to understand and control the disease.

Surveillance Report

Surveillance summary reporting guide

Correspondence: ccdr-rmtc@phac-aspc.gc.ca

Surveillance reports provide essential information about a disease or health-related condition according to person, time and place. They often provide the basis to identify burden of illness and may include related information, such as trends in risk factor frequency or prescribing practices. Surveillance reports inform strategies to address targeted health conditions and may identify the need for additional clinical care or public health action. They can be summaries of larger reports published in the grey literature and, increasingly, may link to a complete surveillance dataset. Surveillance reports are approximately 2,000-2,500 words in length - excluding the abstract, tables and references.

The Canada Communicable Disease Report (CCDR) supports the use of reporting guidelines, including those collected by the Enhancing the QUAlity and Transparency Of health Research (EQUATOR) NetworkNote1. However, the EQUATOR Network does not currently provide a guideline for surveillance reports, so the CCDR has developed this one based on other checklists, a guidelines for evaluating surveillance systemsNote2 and recent trends in Open Science.

Table 1 provides CCDR's checklist for surveillance reports. Figure 1 illustrates an example of how surveillance data is typically summarized graphically with incidence on the y axis and time on the x axis.

As with all submissions, check CCDR's Information for authors (published in January every year with the first issue of each new volume) for general manuscript preparation and submission requirements.

Table 1: Checklist for surveillance reports
Reporting item No1 Description
Title
Title 1 Compose a title that includes the name of the health condition, population, time and place.
Abstract
Structured summary 2 Provide a structured abstract including the following sub-headings: Background; Objectives; Methods; Results; and Conclusions.
Introduction
Context 3 Summarize the current situation regarding the health condition under surveillance and identify why it is important.
Objectives 4 State the objective of the surveillance report.
Methods
Setting 5 Describe the setting, locations and dates of the surveillance period.
Population 6 Describe the population under surveillance.
Definitions 7 Provide definitions for each health event under surveillance, including case definitions and any public health interventions.
Information sources 8 Describe all data sources, including the objective of any surveillance systems, what data were collected and how data were gathered, transferred and stored.
Supplementary data 9 If appropriate, note where to access supplemental material (e.g., www.opendata.gc.ca).
Data quality, missing data and reporting delays. 10 Describe how the data quality was assessed. 
Explain how missing data were addressed. 
If data is reported by date of diagnosis or symptom onset, include a statement about whether the data for the most recent periods may be revised.
Data analysis 11 Describe any analytical methods used providing sufficient detail to enable a knowledgeable reader with access to the original data to judge its appropriateness and to assess the reported results.
Results
Descriptive data 12 Provide a summary of the descriptive data, including demographics.
Data Quality 13 Report on data quality (e.g., completeness, missing data, under reporting,)
Analytic data 14 Provide a summary of the analysis including (when indicated) estimates of trends. When applicable, point estimates should include appropriate indicators of measurement error such as 95% confidence intervals (e.g., average annual percentage change used to describe trends or odds ratios used to describe subgroup differences).
Figures 15 Create the minimum number of figures to highlight key results. 
Create a title that includes person, time and place.
Discussion
Key results 16 Summarise key results with reference to study objectives
Comparison 17 Consider these findings in relation to the current literature.
Strengths and weaknesses 18 Discuss strengths and weaknesses of the study (data quality, completeness, sources of potential bias).
Interpretation and generalizability 19 Provide a cautious overall interpretation of results considering objectives, limitations, multiplicity of analyses, results from similar studies and other relevant evidence.
Conclusion 20 Ensure conclusions address objective and follow from the results.

No: Number

Figure 1:  Rates of reported cases of Hepatitis C in Canada1 by sex, CNDSS2, 1991-2012Note3

 

Figure 1

Text equivalent for figure 1Rates of reported cases of Hepatitis C in Canada by sex, CNDSS, 1991-2012

Year TOTAL rate per 100,000 MALE rate per 100,000 FEMALE rate per 100,000
1991 5.2 6.4 3.9
1992 15.6 20.2 10.9
1993 20.8 27.3 13.9
1994 32.0 41.3 22.2
1995 64.5 83.9 44.4
1996 53.6 68.6 38.1
1997 60.9 79.0 42.5
1998 66.9 88.9 45.0
1999 62.7 81.8 42.9
2000 57.8 73.7 38.3
2001 54.3 71.5 36.2
2002 50.9 67.2 34.5
2003 46.8 61.1 32.3
2004 45.2 59.0 30.9
2005 40.3 53.1 27.5
2006 36.9 48.1 25.5
2007 36.6 46.2 26.2
2008 35.8 45.7 25.5
2009 33.3 42.7 23.3
2010 31.1 40.2 21.6
2011 28.9 36.8 20.7
2012 29.3 36.8 21.5

Survey Report

A reporting guide for Surveys

 

Correspondence: ccdr-rmtc@phac-aspc.gc.ca

Suggested citation: A reporting guide for Surveys. Can Commun Dis Rep. 2017;43(9):184-5.

Surveys are useful to describe “what is”. They are used in health and public health research to learn about current opinions, knowledge and practice, to estimate the prevalence of a condition, to assess self-reported health status, to document risk-seeking and health-seeking behaviours and to gather preliminary information for future studiesFootnote1. Survey methods have changed from being paper-based to being largely electronic-mediated. Most surveys are now self-administered and completed online, by email, with apps or a combination of these (such as an email invitation with a link to an online questionnaire). A Cochrane review found that survey results from apps may have data equivalence to those obtained by more traditional methods when the setting, frequency and clinical application, in which the survey instrument was validated remain the sameFootnote2.

Survey research is used for exploratory or descriptive research as it is relatively inexpensive, can cover a broad geographical area, includes thousands of people and allows for greater honesty when anonymity is assured. Surveys are not useful for causal research due to the risk of confounding bias (where an observed association between two variables is due to an association of both variables with an unmeasured third variable).

Usually surveys do not require a formal ethics review. Informed consent is still indicated, however, and can be met by identifying who is conducting the survey, the purpose, how long it will take to complete, any incentives and how personal information will be protected. For web-based surveys it is a best practice to calculate participation rate by measuring the number of unique visitors who filled out the first page of the survey, divided by the number of unique site visitorsFootnote3

 

When reporting on survey research it is important to describe the objective, study population, development of the survey instrument and how the study was conducted, including the sampling strategy. The results need to include the response rate and the discussion needs to consider if and how the response rate, selection bias, positive response bias and threats to the reliability and validity of the survey questions may have influenced the results.

The Canada Communicable Disease Report (CCDR) has developed a 22-item checklist for reporting on surveys in the area of infectious diseases, which is based on the Checklist for Reporting Results of Internet E-Surveys (CHERRIES)Footnote3  a previous checklistFootnote4 as well as best practices in scientific communications (Table 1). A survey report is generally 1,500 to 2,000 words in length. As with all submissions, check CCDR's Information for Authors for general manuscript preparation and submission requirementsFootnote5.

Table 1: Checklist for reporting on surveys
Reporting item Item # Description

Title/Abstract

Title

1

Compose a title that identifies the topic of the survey and the population studied.

Abstract

2

Provide a 250-word structured abstract that includes the objective, methodology (including study setting, population and questionnaire development and administration), results (including the response rate and key findings) and conclusion.

Introduction

Issue identification

3

Identify the topic of the study and why it is important.

Rationale for study

4

Cite the relevant literature and identify how this survey will add to what is already known.

Objective and rationale

5

Clearly articulate the objective of the study and explain why the survey was the appropriate method to address it.

Methods

Population, time and place

6

Describe the setting and study population for the survey, including the dates it was undertaken. Note if it was a convenience sample.

Demonstration that the survey addresses the research objective

7

Demonstrate how the research questions addressed the research objective by identifying the different topics covered in the questionnaire.

Development of the survey instrument

8

Describe how the survey questionnaire was developed, including reliability and validity testing, pre-testing and pilot testing.

Sampling technique

9

Unless the entire study population was surveyed, identify how the sampling was done including any inclusion or exclusion criteria (to establish the representativeness of your sample) and how the survey was sent (via email, internet, etc.).

Informed consent

10

Describe how potential participants were informed about who was conducting the survey, its purpose or objective, how long it would take to complete, any incentives and how personal information would be protected.

Optimization of response rate

11

Note what procedures were done to optimize the response rate (e.g., if an explanatory letter was sent beforehand, or if reminders were sent to non-responders).

Measurement 

12

Describe all the measurements used in the study, including characterization of the study population, outcome measures and the potential confounding factors.

Analysis

13

Describe how the sample size was calculated and any statistical analysis that was undertaken.

Results

Response rate and representativeness of sample

14

Present the number of responses, the response rate and, if possible, compare the characteristics of your sample with what you know about the study population (e.g., a physician survey might include age, sex, years in practice and location).

Presentation of results

15

Present the findings from the different topic areas in the same sequence that the topics were described in the Methods.

Tables and figures

16

Have tables and figures that present the key findings and ensure all participants are accounted for.

Discussion

Summary of key findings

17

Summarize the main findings and indicate how these address the objective of the study. Highlight any statistically significant results of clinical or social relevance.

Comparative analysis

18

Explore how these findings were consistent with or different from other studies on a similar topic in the literature.

Strengths and limitations

19

Identify the strengths and limitations of your study. If the respondents were not representative of the total sample, or the sample was not representative of the population of interest, consider the implications of this. Consider if and how potential bias has been avoided or remains.

Implications

20

Consider the “so what?” of your findings in terms of how it adds to scientific knowledge, policy or practice.

Next steps

21

Propose next steps or further areas for inquiry without extrapolating too far from your findings.

Conclusion

22

Ensure the conclusion integrates the key findings and addresses the objective of the survey.

Systemic reviews

Systematic review reporting guide

Correspondence: ccdr-rmtc@phac-aspc.gc.ca

Systematic reviews summarize the state of knowledge about a topic. They clarify both what is known and what needs further study and are used to stay up-to-date, to inform the development of advisory statements and clinical practice guidelines and to identify priorities for future research. They are typically 2,000-2,500 words in length - excluding the abstract, tables and references.

The Canada Communicable Disease Report (CCDR) endorses the widely-accepted reporting guideline, the Preferred Reporting Items of Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA)Footnote1. This guide was initially developed for health care interventions and has now been adapted for other usesFootnote2,Footnote3,Footnote4.

Table 1 provides the PRISMA checklist. Figure 1 illustrates a flow diagram that identifies how the initial number of studies identified during a literature search was pared down to the studies for review.

There are some additional considerations for systematic reviews on infectious disease topics. These include the need to consider differences across studies in laboratory methods used for the identification of infectious diseases, the presence or degree of antibiotic resistance and how case definitions were used to interpret laboratory results. Generic names are used to identify identify antibiotics or vaccines; brand names may be noted in brackets upon first use.

As with all submissions, check CCDR's Information for authors (published in January every year with the first issue of each new volume) for general manuscript preparation and submission requirements.

Table 1: PRISMA Checklist for systematic reviews
Reporting item No1 Description
Title
Title 1 Identify the report as a systematic review, meta-analysis or both.
Abstract
Structured summary 2 Provide a structured abstract including the following subheadings: Background; Objectives; Data sources; Study selection; Synthesis; Conclusions and, when applicable, systematic review registration number.Footnote 2
Introduction
Rationale 3 Describe the rationale for the review in the context of what is already known.
Objectives 4 Provide an explicit statement of questions being addressed with reference to Participants, Interventions, Comparisons, Outcomes and Study design (PICOS).
Methods
Protocol and registration 5 Indicate if a review protocol exists, if and where it can be accessed (e.g., website address) and, if available, provide registration information including registration number.
Eligibility criteria 6 Specify study characteristics (e.g., PICOS, length of follow-up) and report characteristics (e.g., years considered, language, publication status) used as criteria for eligibility, giving rationale.
Information sources 7 Describe all information sources (e.g., databases with dates of coverage, contact with study authors to identify additional studies) in the search and date last searched.
Search 8 Present full electronic search strategy for at least one database, including any limits used, such that it could be repeated.
Study selection 9 State the process for selecting studies (e.g., screening, eligibility, included in systematic review and, if applicable, included in the meta-analysis).
Data collection process 10 Describe method of data extraction from reports (e.g., piloted forms, independently, in duplicate) and any processes for obtaining and confirming data from investigators.
Data items 11 List and define all variables for which data were sought (e.g., PICOS, funding sources) and any assumptions and simplifications made.
Risk of bias in individual studies 12 Describe methods used for assessing risk of bias of individual studies (including specification of whether this was done at the study or outcome level) and how this information is to be used in any data synthesis.
Summary measures 13 State the principal summary measures (e.g., risk ratio, difference in means).
Synthesis of results 14 Describe the methods of handling data and combining results of studies, if done, including measures of consistency (e.g., I2) for each meta-analysis.
Risk of bias across studies 15 Specify any assessment of risk of bias that may affect the cumulative evidence (e.g., publication bias, selective reporting within studies).
Additional analyses 16 Describe methods of additional analyses (e.g., sensitivity or subgroup analyses, meta-regression) and if done, indicate which were pre-specified.
Results
Study selection 17 Provide numbers of studies screened, assessed for eligibility and included in the review, with reasons for exclusions at each stage, ideally with a flow diagram.
Study characteristics 18 For each study, present characteristics for which data were extracted (e.g., study size, PICOS, follow-up period) and provide the citations.
Risk of bias within studies 19 Present data on risk of bias of each study and, if available, any outcome level assessment (see item 12).
Results of individual studies 20 For all outcomes considered (benefits or harms), present, for each study: simple summary data for each intervention group and effect estimates and confidence intervals, ideally with a forest plot.
Synthesis of results 21 Present the main results of the review. If meta-analyses are done, include for each, confidence intervals and measures of consistency.Footnote3
Risk of bias across studies 22 Present the results of any assessment of risk of bias across studies (see Item 15).
Additional analysis 23 Provide the results of additional analyses, if done (e.g., sensitivity or subgroup analyses, meta-regression [see Item 16]).
Discussion
Summary of evidence 24 Summarize the main findings including the strength of evidence for each main outcome; consider their relevance to key groups (e.g., healthcare providers, users and policy makers).
Limitations 25 Discuss limitations at study and outcome level (e.g., risk of bias) and at review-level (e.g., incomplete retrieval of identified research, reporting bias).
Conclusions 26 Provide a general interpretation of the results in the context of other evidence  and implications for future research.
Funding
Funding 27 Describe the sources of funding for the systematic review and other support (e.g., supply of data) and role of funders for the systematic review.

Figure 1: PRISMA 2009 flow diagram

 

Figure 1

Text equivalent for figure 1PRISMA 2009 flow diagram

This is a flow diagram that identifies how all the records for the study were identified, assessed and then either included or excluded. Two boxes at the top of the page for the study (first level) identify the number of records identified through 1) database searching or 2) other sources. Both boxes then point to a second level box showing the number of records after duplicates removed.  This points to a third level box showing number of records screened. From here there are two arrows; one pointing horizontally to number of records excluded and one pointing to the fourth level for number of full-text articles assessed for eligibility. This box has two arrows; one pointing horizontally to number of full text articles excluded, with reasons and one pointing vertically to the fifth level for studies included in the qualitative synthesis. This then points to a sixth level box showing the number of studies included in the quantitative synthesis (meta-analysis).

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