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OBJECTIVE: To assess the quality of reporting in Cochrane musculoskeletal systematic reviews (excluding back and injury reviews). METHODS: This study assessed all the Cochrane Musculoskeletal Group's systematic reviews from Issue 4, 2002, of the Cochrane Library Database of Systematic Reviews. Two reviewers independently extracted data and assessed quality. Two assessment tools were used, including an 18 item checklist and flow chart developed by the Quality of Reporting of Meta-analysis (QUOROM) consensus group, and a 10 item scale, the Oxman-Guyatt Overview Quality Assessment Questionnaire (OQAQ). One question on the latter scale (item 10) scores overall quality on a 7 point scale, with high scores indicating superior quality. Data were analyzed using univariate approaches. RESULTS: The 57 systematic reviews assessed were found to have good overall quality, with scores on individual items revealing only minor flaws. Documenting the flow of included and excluded studies and summarizing the results are 2 areas needing improvement in reporting. According to the Oxman-Guyatt scale the overall scientific quality of the Cochrane musculoskeletal reviews was good [mean 5.02 (95% CI 3.71-6.32)]. CONCLUSION: Our study found that the reporting quality of Cochrane musculoskeletal systematic reviews was generally good, although there was room for improvement. For example, it might be feasible to develop specific guidelines for reporting protocols. Certainly more work is needed in reporting search results, documentation of the flow of studies, identification of the type of studies, and summarization of the key findings.