Introduction: The influence of n-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 LCPUFA) supplementation on health outcomes has been studied extensively with randomized controlled trials (RCT). In many research fields, difficulties with recruitment, adherence and high drop-out rates have been reported. However, what is unknown is how common these problems are in n-3 LCPUFA supplementation studies in children and adolescents. Therefore, this paper will review n-3 LCPUFA supplementation studies in children and adolescents with regard to recruitment, adherence and drop-out rates. Methods: The Web of Science, PubMed and Ovid databases were searched for papers reporting on RCT supplementing children and adolescents (2–18 years) with a form of n-3 LCPUFA (or placebo) for at least four weeks. As a proxy for abiding to CONSORT guidelines, we noted whether manuscripts provided a flow-chart and provided dates defining the period of recruitment and follow-up. Results: Ninety manuscripts (reporting on 75 studies) met the inclusion criteria. The majority of the studies did not abide by the CONSORT guidelines: 55% did not provide a flow-chart, while 70% did not provide dates. The majority of studies provided minimal details about the recruitment process. Only 25 of the 75 studies reported an adherence rate which was on average 85%. Sixty-five of the 75 studies included drop-out rates which were on average 17%. Conclusion: Less than half of the included studies abided by the CONSORT guidelines (45% included a flow chart, while 30% reported dates). Problems with recruitment and drop-out seem to be common in n-3 LCPUFA supplementation trials in children and adolescents. However, reporting about recruitment, adherence and dropout rates was very heterogeneous and minimal in the included studies. Some techniques to improve recruitment, adherence and dropout rates were identified from the literature, however these techniques may need to be tailored to n-3 LCPUFA supplementation studies in children and adolescents.
- omega-3 fatty acids
- drop-out rates