Exercise interventions are often incompletely described in reports of clinical trials, hampering evaluation of results and replication and implementation into practice.
The aim of this study was to develop a standardized method for reporting exercise programs in clinical trials: the Consensus on Exercise Reporting Template (CERT).
Design and Methods
Using the EQUATOR Network's methodological framework, 137 exercise experts were invited to participate in a Delphi consensus study. A list of 41 items was identified from a meta-epidemiologic study of 73 systematic reviews of exercise. For each item, participants indicated agreement on an 11-point rating scale. Consensus for item inclusion was defined a priori as greater than 70% agreement of respondents rating an item 7 or above. Three sequential rounds of anonymous online questionnaires and a Delphi workshop were used.
There were 57 (response rate=42%), 54 (response rate=95%), and 49 (response rate=91%) respondents to rounds 1 through 3, respectively, from 11 countries and a range of disciplines. In round 1, 2 items were excluded; 24 items reached consensus for inclusion (8 items accepted in original format), and 16 items were revised in response to participant suggestions. Of 14 items in round 2, 3 were excluded, 11 reached consensus for inclusion (4 items accepted in original format), and 7 were reworded. Sixteen items were included in round 3, and all items reached greater than 70% consensus for inclusion.
The views of included Delphi panelists may differ from those of experts who declined participation and may not fully represent the views of all exercise experts.
The CERT, a 16-item checklist developed by an international panel of exercise experts, is designed to improve the reporting of exercise programs in all evaluative study designs and contains 7 categories: materials, provider, delivery, location, dosage, tailoring, and compliance. The CERT will encourage transparency, improve trial interpretation and replication, and facilitate implementation of effective exercise interventions into practice.