Prior studies suggest that clinical trials are often hampered by problems in design, conduct and reporting that limit their uptake in clinical practice. We have described 'informativeness' as the ability of a trial to guide clinical, policy or research decisions. Little is known about the proportion of initiated trials that inform clinical practice. We created a cohort of randomized interventional clinical trials in three disease areas (ischemic heart disease, diabetes mellitus and lung cancer), that were initiated between 1 January 2009 and 31 December 2010 using ClinicalTrials.gov. We restricted inclusion to trials aimed at answering a clinical question related to the treatment or prevention of disease. Our primary outcome was the proportion of clinical trials fulfilling four conditions of informativeness: importance of the clinical question, trial design, feasibility, and reporting of results. Our study included 125 clinical trials. The proportion meeting four conditions for informativeness was 26.4% (95% CI 18.9 - 35.0). Sixty-seven percent of participants were enrolled in informative trials. The proportion of informative trials did not differ significantly between our three disease areas. Our results suggest that the majority of clinical trials designed to guide clinical practice possess features that may compromise their ability to do so. This highlights opportunities to improve the scientific vetting of clinical research.
The data set is available online on Open Science Framework (DOI 10.17605/OSF.IO/3EGKU) (reference 18 in the manuscript).
- Nora Hutchinson
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
- Philip Boonstra, University of Michigan, United States
© 2022, Hutchinson et al.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
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