An absence of pediatric randomized controlled trials in general medical journals, 1985-2004

University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Journal of Clinical Epidemiology (Impact Factor: 3.42). 03/2007; 60(2):118-23. DOI: 10.1016/j.jclinepi.2006.03.015
Source: PubMed


There are numerous potential barriers to conducting randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in children. The purpose of this study was to compare the quantity, trends over time, characteristics, and quality of pediatric RCTs published in general medical journals (GMJs) with adult RCTs.
We conducted an electronic search of adult and pediatric RCTs from 1985-2004 and a manual search of published RCTs in the year 2000 in five high-impact GMJs (New England Journal of Medicine, Journal of the American Medical Association [JAMA], the Lancet, British Medical Journal [BMJ], Canadian Medical Association Journal [CMAJ]). Linear trends were identified and the 1-year sample was analyzed for publication characteristics (location of recruitment, sample size, number of centers, funding sources, and results) and quality scoring (Jadad score, intention-to-treat analysis, and citation frequency since publication).
Adult RCTs increased by 4.71 RCTs/year (95% confidence interval (CI) 3.62-5.80; P<0.001), which was significantly higher (P<0.0001) than pediatric RCTs, which increased by 0.4 RCTs/year (95% CI -0.02 to 0.9; P=0.06). Adult RCTs were more likely to be hospital-based (P=.001) and to involve more centers in multicenter studies (P=0.02). Quality scores were similar, although adult RCTs were cited more frequently (P=0.003).
There may be significant barriers to the publication of high-quality pediatric RCTs in GMJs.

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    • "Evidence from randomized controlled trials (RCTs) is required to guide treatment of critically ill children. There are fewer RCTs in pediatrics when compared to adult medicine; in reviews of RCTs published in general and specialist medical journals only 14% of trials enrolled exclusively children [1,2]. Moreover, while the methodological quality of pediatric RCTs appears to be improving, 37 to 59% were still at high risk of bias [3-5]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Evidence from randomized controlled trials (RCTs) is required to guide treatment of critically ill children, but the number of RCTs available is limited and the publications are often difficult to find. The objectives of this review were to systematically identify RCTs in pediatric critical care and describe their methods and reporting. We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, LILACS and CENTRAL (from inception to April 16, 2013) and referenced lists of included RCTs and relevant systematic reviews. We included published RCTs administering any intervention to children in a pediatric ICU. We excluded trials conducted in Neonatal ICUs, those enrolling exclusively pre-term infants, and individual patient cross-over trials. Pairs of reviewers independently screened studies for eligibility, assessed risk of bias, and abstracted data. Discrepancies were resolved by consensus. We included 248 RCTs: 45 (18%) were multi-centered and 14 (6%) were multinational. Trials most frequently enrolled both medical and surgical patients (43%) but post-operative cardiac surgery was the single largest population studied (19%). The most frequently evaluated types of intervention were medications (63%), devices (11%) and nutrition (8%). Laboratory or physiological measurements were the most frequent type of primary outcomes (18%). Half of these trials (50%) reported blinding. Of the 107 (43%) trials that reported an a priori sample size, 34 (32%) were stopped early. The median number of children randomized per trial was 49 and ranged from 6 to 4947. The frequency of RCT publications increased at a mean rate of 0.7 RCTs per year (P < 0.001) from 1 to 20 trials per year. This scoping review identified the available RCTs in pediatric critical care and made them accessible to clinicians and researchers ( Most focused on medications and intermediate or surrogate outcomes, were single-centered and were conducted in North America and Western Europe. The results of this review underscore the need for trials with rigorous methodology, appropriate outcome measures, and improved quality of reporting to ensure that high quality evidence exists to support clinical decision-making in this vulnerable population.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2013 · Critical care (London, England)
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    • "In addition, the proportion reporting sample size calculation in Chinese pediatric RCTs was also lower than in international pediatric RCTs (4–65%) [11,28] and adult RCTs (23–64%) [28-30]. The proportion of multiple center pediatric RCTs in China (2.3%) was also lower than the adult RCTs (28–67%) worldwide [11,28]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Quality assessment of pediatric randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in China is limited. The aim of this study was to evaluate the quantitative trends and quality indicators of RCTs published in mainland China over a recent 10-year period. We individually searched all 17 available pediatric journals published in China from January 1, 2002 to December 30, 2011 to identify RCTs of drug treatment in participants under the age of 18 years. The quality was evaluated according to the Cochrane quality assessment protocol. Of 1287 journal issues containing 44398 articles, a total of 2.4% (1077/44398) articles were included in the analysis. The proportion of RCTs increased from 0.28% in 2002 to 0.32% in 2011. Individual sample sizes ranged from 10 to 905 participants (median 81 participants); 2.3% of the RCTs were multiple center trials; 63.9% evaluated Western medicine, 32.5% evaluated traditional Chinese medicine; 15% used an adequate method of random sequence generation; and 10.4% used a quasi-random method for randomization. Only 1% of the RCTs reported adequate allocation concealment and 0.6% reported the method of blinding. The follow-up period was from 7 days to 96 months, with a median of 7.5 months. There was incomplete outcome data reported in 8.3%, of which 4.5% (4/89) used intention-to-treat analysis. Only 0.4% of the included trials used adequate random sequence allocation, concealment and blinding. The articles published from 2007 to 2011 revealed an improvement in the randomization method compared with articles published from 2002 to 2006 (from 2.7% to 23.6%, p=0.000). In mainland China, the quantity of RCTs did not increase in the pediatric population, and the general quality was relatively poor. Quality improvements were suboptimal in the later 5 years.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2013 · BMC Pediatrics
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    • "The HopSCOTCH (Shared Care Obesity Trial in Children) randomised trial is the first to our knowledge to study the efficacy of a general-practitioner based, shared-care model in reducing obesity in children – a population relatively underserved by evidence-based approaches [26]. The intervention needs to be developed in such a way that it could be widely implemented with consistency and sustainability, but with relatively little training. "
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    ABSTRACT: Despite record rates of childhood obesity, effective evidence-based treatments remain elusive. While prolonged tertiary specialist clinical input has some individual impact, these services are only available to very few children. Effective treatments that are easily accessible for all overweight and obese children in the community are urgently required. General practitioners are logical care providers for obese children but high-quality trials indicate that, even with substantial training and support, general practitioner care alone will not suffice to improve body mass index (BMI) trajectories. HopSCOTCH (the Shared Care Obesity Trial in Children) will determine whether a shared-care model, in which paediatric obesity specialists co-manage obesity with general practitioners, can improve adiposity in obese children. Randomised controlled trial nested within a cross-sectional BMI survey conducted across 22 general practices in Melbourne, Australia. Children aged 3-10 years identified as obese by Centers for Disease Control criteria at their family practice, and randomised to either a shared-care intervention or usual care. A single multidisciplinary obesity clinic appointment at Melbourne's Royal Children's Hospital, followed by regular appointments with the child's general practitioner over a 12 month period. To support both specialist and general practice consultations, web-based shared-care software was developed to record assessment, set goals and actions, provide information to caregivers, facilitate communication between the two professional groups, and jointly track progress. Primary - change in BMI z-score. Secondary - change in percentage fat and waist circumference; health status, body satisfaction and global self-worth. This will be the first efficacy trial of a general-practitioner based, shared-care model of childhood obesity management. If effective, it could greatly improve access to care for obese children. Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12608000055303.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2012 · BMC Pediatrics
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