STUDY OBJECTIVE: To identify randomised controlled trials (RCTs) published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health and to explore the contribution of these to the evaluation of public health issues. DESIGN: Hand searching of the journal by both authors with independent assessment of topics of the reports and of their relevance to the Cochrane Collaboration. Agreement was assessed using kappa scores. SETTING: All papers and letters published in the journal from the first issue to the end of 1994. SUBJECTS: Reports that might be RCTs were collected and classified into seven categories: definitely/probably/possibly RCTs or quasi-RCTs; or none of these. MAIN RESULTS: Eighty two definite RCTs were identified and a further 23 were probably/possibly RCTs or quasi-RCTs. Most reports dealt with health education, drug treatments, or "other" health service interventions. Both authors failed to identify a number of trials on hand searching. CONCLUSIONS: The journal has published many trials of importance to the development of evidence-based public health policy. Hand searching may need to be done independently by more than one person.
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