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Reading and Writing RTF Documents as Data: Automatic Completion of CONSORT Flow Diagrams

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Whenever the results of a randomized clinical trial are reported in scientific journals, the published paper must adhere to the CONSORT (CONsolidated Standards Of Reporting Trials) statement. The statement includes a flow diagram, and the generation of these CONSORT flow diagrams is always problematic, especially when the trial is not the typical two-arm parallel design. Templates of the typical two-arm design flow diagram are generally available as RTF documents, however the completion of the individual fields within the diagram is both time consuming and prone to error. The SAS Macro language was used to read a RTF template file for the CONSORT flow diagram of choice, fill in the fields using information available to the SAS program, and then rewrite the table as a completed RTF CONSORT flow diagram. This paper describes the process of reading and writing RTF files..

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