Project outline


This project aimed to create an evidence-based guideline for reporting randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of social and psychological interventions.

This CONSORT Extension was a collaboration of the Centre for Evidence Based Intervention at the University of Oxford, the Centre for Outcomes Research and Effectiveness at University College London, and the Institute of Child Care Research at Queen’s University Belfast, in association with the CONSORT Group.

Paul Montgomery has now moved to the University of Birmingham, and this page is kept for reference purposes only.


Social and psychological interventions are often complex. Understanding randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of these complex interventions requires a detailed description of the interventions tested and the methods used to evaluate them. However, RCT reports in criminology, education, psychology, public health, social work, and related disciplines often omit, or inadequately report, this information. The magnitude of these deficiencies is particularly striking when comparing RCT reporting quality in social and behavioural science journals to health care and medical journals. Incomplete and inaccurate reporting hinders the optimal use of research, wastes resources, and fails to meet ethical obligations to research participants and consumers.

The CONSORT Statement is a guideline widely used in medicine to help authors report RCTs. The original statement and later extensions have improved the quality of medical trial reporting, but there has been limited uptake in social and behavioural sciences, as the greater complexity of interventions in these disciplines gives rise to new issues that are not adequately addressed in existing guidelines.  

Scientists who develop and evaluate social and psychological interventions need a reporting guideline that is appropriate for the trials that they conduct. To address this need, we are developing a CONSORT extension for social and psychological interventions: CONSORT-SPI. This guideline will incorporate lessons from previous extensions and other reporting guidelines, and it will include a revised checklist tailored to the unique needs of these complex interventions. To promote widespread uptake and impact, we will follow best practices for guideline development. Improved reporting will ultimately increase the usefulness of interventions by ensuring the usability of trial reports.

Montgomery, Paul, Mayo-Wilson, Evan, Hopewell, Sally, Macdonald, Geraldine, Moher, David & Grant, Sean (2013) "Developing a Reporting Guideline for Social and Psychological Intervention Trials", American Journal of Public Health 103: 10 1741-1746. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2013.301447. URL:;. Download

Grant, Sean, Montgomery, Paul & Mayo-Wilson, Evan (2012) "Development of a CONSORT extension for interventions in public health and related disciplines", The Lancet 380: Supp3 S14. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(13)60370-0. URL:

Gardner, F., Mayo-Wilson, E., Montgomery, P., Hopewell, S., Macdonald, G., Moher, D. & Grant, S. (2013) "Editorial Perspective: New guidelines are needed to improve the reporting of trials in child and adolescent mental health", Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 54: 7 810-812. doi: 10.1111/jcpp.12106. URL:

Spreckelsen, Thees, Grant, Sean P. & Montgomery, Paul (2013) "Letters: Additional requirements for complex interventions", British Medical Journal : 345 e8003. doi: URL:

Grant, Sean, Montgomery, Paul, Hopewell, Sally, Macdonald, Geraldine, Moher, Dawn & Mayo-Wilson, Evan (2013) "New guidelines are needed to improve the reporting of trials in addiction sciences.", Addiction 108: 9 1687-8. doi: 10.1111/add.12249. URL:

Montgomery, P., Grant, S., Hopewell, S., Macdonald, G., Moher, D., Michie, S., & Mayo-Wilson, E. (2013) "Protocol for CONSORT-SPI: An Extension for Social and Psychological Interventions", Implementation Science  : 8 99. doi: 10.1186/1748-5908-8-99. URL:

Grant, S., Mayo-Wilson, E., Melendez-Torres, G.J. & Montgomery, P. (2013) "The reporting quality of complex psychological and social intervention trials: a systematic review of reporting guidelines and trial publications", PLoS ONE 8: 5 e65442. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0065442. URL: