Outcomes reporting in systematic reviews on vital pulp treatment: A scoping review for the development of a core outcome set

Siobhan Cushley, Henry F Duncan, Fionnuala T Lundy, Venkateshbabu Nagendrababu, Mike Clarke, Ikhlas El Karim

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A large number of research reports on vital pulp treatment (VPT) has been published over the last two decades. However, heterogeneity in reporting outcomes of VPT is a significant challenge for evidence synthesis and clinical decision-making. To identify outcomes assessed in VPT studies and to evaluate how and when outcomes are measured. A subsidiary aim was to assess evidence for selective reporting bias in the included studies. The results of this review will be used to inform the development of a core outcome set (COS) for endodontic treatments. Multiple healthcare bibliographic databases, including PubMed/MEDLINE, Ovid EMBASE, Scopus, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews and Web of Science were searched for systematic reviews published between 1990 and 2020, reporting on VPT. Screening, data extraction and risk of bias assessment were completed independently by two reviewers. Outcomes' information was extracted and aligned with a healthcare taxonomy into five core areas: survival, clinical/physiological changes, life impact, resource use and adverse events. Thirty-six systematic reviews were included, ten reporting on indirect pulp capping or selective caries removal, nine on direct pulp capping, eight on pulpotomy and nine on combined VPTs. There was considerable variation in the outcomes reported in these reviews and their included studies. Clinician-reported outcomes were used considerably more often than patient-reported outcomes. A range of instruments and time points were used for measuring outcomes. Several of the reviews were assessed as having low risk of selective reporting bias, but many did not specifically report this domain, while other didn't provide risk of bias assessment at all. Considerable variation in selection of outcomes and how and when they are measured and reported was evident and this heterogeneity has implications for evidence synthesis and clinical decision-making. Whilst there is a lack of consistency, several potentially important outcomes for VPT, including pulp survival, incidence of post-operative pain and need for further intervention, have been identified which could inform the development of a COS for endodontic treatment. [Abstract copyright: This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.]
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Endodontic Journal
Early online date15 Jun 2022
Publication statusEarly online date - 15 Jun 2022


  • Vital pulp treatment
  • Outcomes
  • Endodontics
  • Pulpotomy
  • Selective caries removal
  • Patient-reported outcomes
  • Direct pulp capping


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