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That practice can make a drug or treatment look like it’s safer or more effective than it actually is. Now, a systematic effort to find out whether major journals are complying with their own pledge to ensure that outcomes are reported correctly has found many are falling down on the job—and both journals and authors are full of excuses.

When journals and researchers were asked to correct studies, the responses “were fascinating, and alarming. Editors and researchers routinely misunderstand what correct trial reporting looks like,” says project leader Ben Goldacre, an author and physician at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom and a proponent of transparency in drug research.

Starting 4 years ago, his team’s Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine Outcome Monitoring Project (COMPare) project examined all trials published over 6 weeks in five journals: Annals of Internal MedicineThe BMJJAMAThe Lancet, and The New England Journal of Medicine(NEJM). The study topics ranged from the health effects of drinking alcohol for diabetics to a comparison of two kidney cancer drugs. All five journals have endorsed long-established Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials (CONSORT) guidelines. One CONSORT rule is that authors should describe the outcomes they plan to study before a trial starts and stick to that list when they publish the trial.

…continue reading ‘Major Medical Journals Don’t Follow Their Own Rules for Reporting Results from Clinical Trials’

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