Publication bias in the medical literature: a review by a Canadian Research Ethics Board.

Dalhousie University and the Capital District Health Authority, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
Canadian Journal of Anaesthesia (Impact Factor: 2.5). 06/2007; 54(5):380-8. DOI: 10.1007/BF03022661
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT We reviewed the publication record of all protocols submitted to the Capital District Health Authority Research Ethics Board (REB) in Halifax, Nova Scotia, for the period 1995-1996. Because of a heightened awareness of the issue, we hypothesized that there would be less publication bias (a failure to report negative results) and a higher publication rate from completed studies, than previously reported.
Closed studies were identified from the REB database. Publications were identified by the investigators, requests from sponsors, and a literature review. For each publication, we identified authors, title, journal, number of subjects enrolled, and whether or not the publication was a report of a randomized clinical trial. Comparisons were done using a Student's t test, the Chi-square statistic, or Fisher's exact test as appropriate.
From the database of closed studies, 106 remained unpublished, while completed investigations resulted in 84 publications (44% publication rate). The median time to publication was 32.5 months. Publication of statistically significant results occurred in 71/84 trials. Publication of protocols submitted by departments ranged from 91% (anesthesia; 10/11) to 25% [nursing; 2/8 (P<0.05)]. Trials investigating new drugs in Phase 3 or 4 studies were more likely to be published than trials investigating agents in Phase 1 or 2 (P<0.05), and were less likely to be published if sponsored by a pharmaceutical company (P<0.05).
Publication bias continues to be a problem, particularly for early phase investigative studies. Our results suggest that a different approach is required to reduce publication bias. The role that REBs and peer-reviewed journals might play requires further exploration.

1 Follower
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: IntroductionMany authors believe that there are biases in scientific publications. Editorial biases include publication bias; which refers to those situations where the results influence the editor's decision, and editorial bias refers to those situations where factors related with authors or their environment influence the decision.
    Neurologia (Barcelona, Spain) 01/2011; 26(1):1-5. DOI:10.1016/j.nrl.2010.11.001 · 1.35 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: When the nature and direction of research results affect their chances of publication, a distortion of the evidence base - termed publication bias - results. Despite considerable recent efforts to implement measures to reduce the non-publication of trials, publication bias is still a major problem in medical research. The objective of our study was to identify barriers to and facilitators of interventions to prevent or reduce publication bias. We systematically reviewed the scholarly literature and extracted data from articles. Further, we performed semi-structured interviews with stakeholders. We performed an inductive thematic analysis to identify barriers to and facilitators of interventions to counter publication bias. The systematic review identified 39 articles. Thirty-four of 89 invited interview partners agreed to be interviewed. We clustered interventions into four categories: prospective trial registration, incentives for reporting in peer-reviewed journals or research reports, public availability of individual patient-level data, and peer-review/editorial processes. Barriers we identified included economic and personal interests, lack of financial resources for a global comprehensive trial registry, and different legal systems. Facilitators identified included: raising awareness of the effects of publication bias, providing incentives to make data publically available, and implementing laws to enforce prospective registration and reporting of clinical trial results. Publication bias is a complex problem that reflects the complex system in which it occurs. The cooperation amongst stakeholders to increase public awareness of the problem, better tailoring of incentives to publish, and ultimately legislative regulations have the greatest potential for reducing publication bias.
    BMC Health Services Research 12/2014; 14(1):551. DOI:10.1186/s12913-014-0551-z · 1.66 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    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