Reporting quality of TMS studies in neurological conditions: A critical appraisal of the main gaps, challenges and clinical implications

Franca Deriu*, Gianluca Martinez, Nicola Loi, Lucia Ventura, Francesca Ginatempo, Zeevi Dvir, Andrea Manca

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Transparent reporting of study methods and findings can dramatically expand the reliability and impact of health research. Evidence-based reporting checklists and guidelines, such as those hosted by the EQUATOR network, provide a framework for summarizing statistics, methods and data presentation. While being increasingly used in several research fields, such trend toward better control seems in its infancy in the field of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). By the present work we aimed at assessing the quality of methodological and statistical reporting of TMS-based investigations in individuals with neurological motor impairments. We completed a methodological survey of all the studies conducted in the last two decades on the application of TMS to evaluate motor impairments in individual with neurological conditions. The pre-planned literature search of three major biomedical databases resulted in 1109 articles retrieved, 571 of which satisfied the eligibility criteria. The survey revealed that most of the studies suffered from relevant methodological and statistical issues, which potentially affect data interpretation and usability. Among these, sample size calculation, indices of change other than p values, reproducibility and clinical relevance/responsiveness emerged as those elements most commonly neglected. To increase research reliability of TMS data, we recommend adhering to international initiatives like the EQUATOR, that can impact clinical research by promoting adequate reporting. In particular, we advocate an update of the submission policies of the journals active in this field in line with adjacent areas, such as neurorehabilitation, that require the uploading of completed checklists that rationalize reporting.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109293
JournalJournal of Neuroscience Methods
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2021


  • Clinical responsiveness
  • Motor impairment
  • Reproducibility of results
  • Research methodology
  • Statistics
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation


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