Funding source, trial outcome and reporting quality: are they related Results of a pilot studyReport as inadecuate

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BMC Health Services Research

, 2:18

First Online: 04 September 2002Received: 23 April 2002Accepted: 04 September 2002DOI: 10.1186-1472-6963-2-18

Cite this article as: Clifford, T.J., Barrowman, N.J. & Moher, D. BMC Health Serv Res 2002 2: 18. doi:10.1186-1472-6963-2-18


BackgroundThere has been increasing concern regarding the potential effects of the commercialization of research.

MethodsIn order to examine the relationships between funding source, trial outcome and reporting quality, recent issues of five peer-reviewed, high impact factor, general medical journals were hand-searched to identify a sample of 100 randomized controlled trials 20 trials-journal. Relevant data, including funding source industry-not-for-profit-mixed-not reported and statistical significance of primary outcome favouring new treatment-favouring conventional treatment-neutral-unclear, were abstracted. Quality scores were assigned using the Jadad scale and the adequacy of allocation concealment.

ResultsSixty-six percent of trials received some industry funding. Trial outcome was not associated with funding source p= .461. There was a preponderance of favourable statistical conclusions among published trials with 67% reporting results that favored a new treatment whereas 6% favoured the conventional treatment. Quality scores were not associated with funding source or trial outcome.

ConclusionsIt is not known whether the absence of significant associations between funding source, trial outcome and reporting quality reflects a true absence of an association or is an artefact of inadequate statistical power, reliance on voluntary disclosure of funding information, a focus on trials recently published in the top medical journals, or some combination thereof. Continued and expanded monitoring of potential conflicts is recommended, particularly in light of new guidelines for disclosure that have been endorsed by the ICMJE.

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Author: Tammy J Clifford - Nicholas J Barrowman - David Moher


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