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OBJECTIVE: To determine the quality of abstracts reporting randomized clinical trials (RCT) at the 2005 Annual Scientific Meeting of the American College of Rheumatology. METHODS: All 2005 abstracts including late-breaking abstracts were assessed. An abstract was deemed to be reporting an RCT if it indicated that participants were randomized in the title or body of the abstract. RCT were excluded if they included only pharmacokinetic data. The CONSORT checklist was applied and relevant data extracted. We defined manufacturer support as acknowledgment of industry support or industry employee as co-author. RESULTS: Of 2146 abstracts, 143 (6.7%) reported RCT. Of these, 78.3% were drug trials, and 63.6% indicated manufacturer support. Only 30.8% of abstracts used "randomized" in the title, 44.1% did not explicitly state whether blinding was undertaken, and only 7.0% clearly stated who was blinded. Thirty percent of studies did not give an explicit definition of eligibility criteria of participants. While 84.6% explicitly described the experimental intervention, only 37.1% explicitly described the comparator intervention. Only 21% explicitly stated that an intention to treat analysis was performed. Baseline demographic and clinical characteristics were reported in 48.3%. While most abstracts reported summary results for each treatment group, only 35.7% reported effect size with its precision. CONCLUSION: The quality of reporting is suboptimal in many RCT abstracts. Abstracts reporting RCT would benefit from a structured approach that ensures more detailed reporting of eligibility criteria, active and comparator interventions, flow of participants, and adequate summary and precision of results.