Assessing Quality of Reporting of Herbal Dermatology Trials from the Philippines using the hCONSORT Checklist: a Systematic Review

  • Rowena Natividad S. Flores-Genuino
  • Maria Christina Filomena R. Batac
  • Kyle Mica D. Talens
Keywords: randomized clinical trials, herbal, botanical, plant-based, CONSORT, hCONSORT, quality of reporting, systematic review


Background. Herbal medicine is a growing and innovative field in Philippine dermatology. There is a need to assess the quality of reporting of published herbal randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in dermatology since these will serve to guide rational development and use of medicinal plants in the Philippines.

Objective. The study aimed to assess the quality of reporting of published herbal RCTs in dermatology from the Philippines based on the hCONSORT checklist.

Methods. We searched MEDLINE, CENTRAL, HERDIN (from inception to 20 September 2018), and other secondary sources for published randomized controlled trials that used any herbal preparation as intervention for the treatment or prevention of a dermatologic disease or for maintenance of healthy skin, hair, or nails. We determined the percentage of reported items based from the hCONSORT checklist.

Results. We included 41 trials, majority of which were on infections, infestations, and bites (66%). The three most common families of herbs used were Fabaceae/Leguminosae (22%) (Gliricidia sepium (Jacq.) Walp. [kakawati]; Senna alata (L.) Roxb. / Cassia alata (L.) [akapulko]); Arecaceae (12%) (Cocos nucifera L. [coconut]); and Myrtaceae (12%) (Eucalyptus sp [eucalyptus], Psidium guajava L.[guava], and Melaleuca alternifolia (Maiden & Betche) Cheel [tea tree]). Most of the trials (27/41, 66%) were conducted in accredited dermatology training programs of the Philippine Dermatological Society. Only 11 trials (27%) were published in PubMED-indexed journals. More than half of articles were published after the CONSORT publication in 2006 (59%). The mean percentage of reported hCONSORT checklist items in included studies was 39.6% (SD 9.9), with only seven studies reporting more than 50% of the hCONSORT checklist items.

Conclusion. Published herbal RCTs in dermatology from the Philippines are poorly reported based on the hCONSORT checklist. There is a need for dissemination of the hCONSORT to local researchers and journal editors to ensure thorough and quality reporting.