STUDY QUESTION: Is there a need for a specific guide addressing studies of seminal quality?
SUMMARY ANSWER: The proposed guidelines for the appraisal of SEMinal QUAlity studies (SEMQUA) reflect the need for improvement in methodology and research on semen quality.
WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY: From an examination of other instruments used to assess the quality of diagnostic studies, there was no guideline on studies of seminal quality.
STUDY DESIGN, SIZE AND DURATION: Through systematic bibliographic search, potential items were identified and grouped into four blocks: participants, analytical methods, statistical methods and results.
PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING AND METHODS: Our findings were presented to a panel of experts who were asked to identify opportunities for improvement. Then, a checklist was designed containing the questions generated by the items that summarize the essential points that need to be considered for the successful outcome of a SEMQUA.
MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE: Eighteen items were identified, from which 19 questions, grouped into four blocks, were generated to constitute the final checklist. An explanation for the inclusion of each item was provided and some examples found in the bibliographic search were cited.
LIMITATIONS AND REASONS FOR CAUTION: We consider that not all items are equally applicable to all study designs, and so the hypothetical results are not comparable. For that reason, a score would not be fair to critically appraise a study. This checklist is presented as an instrument for appraising SEMQUAs and therefore remains open to constructive criticism. It will be further developed in the future, in parallel with the continuing evolution of SEMQUAs.
WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS: The final configuration of the SEMQUA is in the form of a checklist, and includes the items generally considered to be essential for the proper development of a SEMQUA. The final checklist produced has various areas of application; for example, it would be useful for designing and constructing a SEMQUA, for reviewing a paper on the question, for educational purposes or as an instrument for appraising the quality of research articles in this field.
STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTEREST(S): None.
- Biomedical Research/trends
- Infertility, Male/diagnosis
- Peer Review, Research/methods
- Practice Guidelines as Topic
- Semen Analysis/standards
- Societies, Scientific
- Voluntary Health Agencies