Role of a research ethics committee in follow-up and publication of results
ABSTRACT Follow-up of clinical trials is a commitment rarely fulfilled by research ethics committees (RECs). We assessed the output of clinical trials submitted in 1997 to our REC, and talked to principal investigators, sponsors, contract research organisations, or a combination of these. During 1997, our REC reviewed 166 clinical trials, and approved 158. The recruitment rate was lower than expected in 45% (64/143) of all initiated clinical trials; 64% (92/143) were finished in accordance with protocol. 3 years after, the results of only 21% (26/123) of finished clinical trials were published in peer-reviewed journals, rising to 31% (38/123) if in-press articles were included. RECs should devote more effort and resources to assess public dissemination of results of clinical trials.
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ABSTRACT: The discontinuation of randomized clinical trials (RCTs) raises ethical concerns and often wastes scarce research resources. The epidemiology of discontinued RCTs, however, remains unclear. To determine the prevalence, characteristics, and publication history of discontinued RCTs and to investigate factors associated with RCT discontinuation due to poor recruitment and with nonpublication. Retrospective cohort of RCTs based on archived protocols approved by 6 research ethics committees in Switzerland, Germany, and Canada between 2000 and 2003. We recorded trial characteristics and planned recruitment from included protocols. Last follow-up of RCTs was April 27, 2013. Completion status, reported reasons for discontinuation, and publication status of RCTs as determined by correspondence with the research ethics committees, literature searches, and investigator surveys. After a median follow-up of 11.6 years (range, 8.8-12.6 years), 253 of 1017 included RCTs were discontinued (24.9% [95% CI, 22.3%-27.6%]). Only 96 of 253 discontinuations (37.9% [95% CI, 32.0%-44.3%]) were reported to ethics committees. The most frequent reason for discontinuation was poor recruitment (101/1017; 9.9% [95% CI, 8.2%-12.0%]). In multivariable analysis, industry sponsorship vs investigator sponsorship (8.4% vs 26.5%; odds ratio [OR], 0.25 [95% CI, 0.15-0.43]; P < .001) and a larger planned sample size in increments of 100 (-0.7%; OR, 0.96 [95% CI, 0.92-1.00]; P = .04) were associated with lower rates of discontinuation due to poor recruitment. Discontinued trials were more likely to remain unpublished than completed trials (55.1% vs 33.6%; OR, 3.19 [95% CI, 2.29-4.43]; P < .001). In this sample of trials based on RCT protocols from 6 research ethics committees, discontinuation was common, with poor recruitment being the most frequently reported reason. Greater efforts are needed to ensure the reporting of trial discontinuation to research ethics committees and the publication of results of discontinued trials.JAMA The Journal of the American Medical Association 03/2014; 311(10):1045-51. DOI:10.1001/jama.2014.1361 · 29.98 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The synthesis of published research in systematic reviews is essential when providing evidence to inform clinical and health policy decision-making. However, the validity of systematic reviews is threatened if journal publications represent a biased selection of all studies that have been conducted (dissemination bias). To investigate the extent of dissemination bias we conducted a systematic review that determined the proportion of studies published as peer-reviewed journal articles and investigated factors associated with full publication in cohorts of studies (i) approved by research ethics committees (RECs) or (ii) included in trial registries. Four bibliographic databases were searched for methodological research projects (MRPs) without limitations for publication year, language or study location. The searches were supplemented by handsearching the references of included MRPs. We estimated the proportion of studies published using prediction intervals (PI) and a random effects meta-analysis. Pooled odds ratios (OR) were used to express associations between study characteristics and journal publication. Seventeen MRPs (23 publications) evaluated cohorts of studies approved by RECs; the proportion of published studies had a PI between 22% and 72% and the weighted pooled proportion when combining estimates would be 46.2% (95% CI 40.2%-52.4%, I2 = 94.4%). Twenty-two MRPs (22 publications) evaluated cohorts of studies included in trial registries; the PI of the proportion published ranged from 13% to 90% and the weighted pooled proportion would be 54.2% (95% CI 42.0%-65.9%, I2 = 98.9%). REC-approved studies with statistically significant results (compared with those without statistically significant results) were more likely to be published (pooled OR 2.8; 95% CI 2.2-3.5). Phase-III trials were also more likely to be published than phase II trials (pooled OR 2.0; 95% CI 1.6-2.5). The probability of publication within two years after study completion ranged from 7% to 30%. A substantial part of the studies approved by RECs or included in trial registries remains unpublished. Due to the large heterogeneity a prediction of the publication probability for a future study is very uncertain. Non-publication of research is not a random process, e.g., it is associated with the direction of study findings. Our findings suggest that the dissemination of research findings is biased.PLoS ONE 12/2014; 9(12):e114023. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0114023 · 3.53 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Background: The fate of clinical research projects funded by a grant has been investigated, but there is no information on the projects which did not receive funding. The fate of these projects is not known: do they apply for and/or receive funding from other sources or are they carried out without specific funding? Purpose: The aim of the study was to describe all clinical research projects submitted to a French national funding scheme (PHRC 2000) and to assess project initiation, completion and publication status taking into account whether or not they received funding. Methods: This study is a retrospective cohort. The initial project characteristics were retrieved from the submission files and follow-up information was collected from the primary investigator. The percentages of projects started, completed and published were studied. Results: A total of 481 projects were studied. Follow-up information was obtained for 366. Overall, 185 projects were initiated (51%); 139 of them were funded by the PHRC 2000 or other sources. The most commonly cited reason for not initiating a project was a lack of funding. Subsequently, 121 of the projects initiated were completed (65%). Accrual difficulties were the main reason cited to explain why studies were stopped prematurely or were still ongoing. Finally, 88 of the completed projects were published (73%). Amongst the completed projects, the only factor explaining publication was the statistical significance of the results. Conclusions: Obtainment of funding was a determining factor for project initiation. However, once initiated, the funding did not influence completion or publication.PLoS ONE 06/2014; 9(6):e99561. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0099561 · 3.53 Impact Factor