This is a summary, written by members of the CITF Secretariat, of:

Cheng B, Loeschnik E, Selemon A, Hosseini R, Yuan J, Ware H, Ma X, Cao C, Bergeri I, Subissi L, Lewis HC, Williamson T, Ronksley P, Arora RK, Whelan M, Bobrovitz N. Adherence of SARS-CoV-2 seroepidemiologic studies to the ROSES-S reporting guideline during the COVID-19 pandemic. medRxiv 2023.06.02.23290895; doi:

The results and/or conclusions contained in the research do not necessarily reflect the views of all CITF members.

A CITF-funded study, published in preprint and not yet peer-reviewed, found that the reporting of SARS-CoV-2 seroepidemiologic studies needs improvement, particularly in providing adequately detailed information about laboratory methods. Researchers showed that there was a median adherence to reporting items of 48% per study, as evaluated via the Reporting of Seroepidemiologic studies—SARS-CoV-2 (ROSES-S) guideline. This study by the SeroTracker group was led by Brianna Cheng (University of Toronto), Emma Loeschnik (Western University), and Anabel Selemon (University of Calgary); overseen by Mairead Whelan (University of Calgary) and Dr. Nik Bobrovitz (University of Calgary); and with support from CITF principal investigator Dr. Rahul Arora (University of Calgary).

Key findings:

  • The adherence to reporting items in the ROSES-S guideline was a median value of 48.1% per study. Adherence varied across studies, ranging from 8.8% to 72.7%.
  • The laboratory methods domain, which includes describing the sample type and storage, and serological assays, had the lowest median adherence of 33.3%.
  • The discussion domain, which includes limitations and strengths, sources of bias, and generalizability of results, had the highest median adherence of 75.0%.
  • The publication of the ROSES-S guideline in June 2021 was not associated with changes in the reporting practices of SARS-CoV-2 seroepidemiologic studies.
  • Studies that are peer-reviewed journal articles, those with moderate and low risk of study bias, and those using non-probability sampling methods were associated with higher adherence to the ROSES-S guideline.

In conclusion, the reporting of SARS-CoV-2 seroepidemiologic studies needs improvement, particularly in providing detailed information about laboratory methods. To enhance the accurate interpretation, comparison, and application of seroprevalence data, researchers should strive to adhere to reporting guidelines like ROSES-S, while ensuring methodological quality, with support from stakeholders in ROSES-S guideline endorsement and promotion.

This was a sub-study within the SeroTracker living systematic review database. A total of 199 studies — including peer-reviewed and pre-print studies, and grey literature (government and institutional reports) — from March 2020 to December 2022 were analyzed.