An increase in the number and quality of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and trends toward higher levels of evidence (LOE) in the plastic surgery literature has been reported; however, there has not been a specific focus on the LOE of presentations at scientific meetings. The purpose of this study was to ascertain trends in the LOE of studies presented at the annual meeting of the American Association of Plastic Surgeons.
A hand search was conducted identifying all abstracts of podium presentations from 2009 to 2019. LOE, using American Society of Plastic Surgeons guidelines, were ascribed to each presentation, along with identification of any corresponding journal publications. RCTs were further analyzed using the 12-item Modified Consolidated Standard of Reporting Trials checklist.
Four hundred forty-one studies with a median LOE of 3 were included in the study. A non-significant improvement in the mean level of evidence was noted over time ( 0.09) along with an increase in the number of level 2 studies ( 0.589) and RCTs ( 0.717). Level 1 studies were rare (0.91%) and of fair quality (median checklist score 8 out of 12). Seventy-two percent of abstracts resulted in publication, and the mean lag time to publication was 422 days.
A favorable trend is observed with respect to the mean LOE as well as the number of level 2 studies and RCTs over time. The importance of research meeting attendance to maintain up-to-date information is noteworthy, given the long lag time from presentation to publication.

Copyright © 2021 The Authors. Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. on behalf of The American Society of Plastic Surgeons.