Study: Prospectively registered clinical trials more likely to be published

Clinical trials registered within one month after their start date are significantly more likely to be published than unregistered trials, according to a study published in JAMA.

For the study, researchers assessed 113 clinical trials approved by The National Health Service's research ethics committee for the regions of Helsinki and Uusimaa, Finland in 2007. Among them, 69 were prospectively registered — meaning trial protocols were publicly documented — and 64 were published. Prospective registration displayed a significant positive correlation with publication, as 68 percent of registered trials were published compared to 39 percent of unregistered trials.

Additionally, discrepancies between study protocol and publication were more common among unregistered studies. While 55 percent of unregistered trials displayed such discrepancies, the issue was identified in just 6 percent of registered studies. Researchers defined protocol-publication discrepancies as reporting an outcome as primary when it was not listed as such in the trial protocol or when an outcome was listed as primary in the protocol but downgraded upon publication to a secondary or tertiary outcome.

"Journal editors, regulators, research ethics committees, funders and sponsors should implement policies mandating prospective registration for all clinical trials," concluded the study' authors. "Only with accessible, complete information can interventions be adequately evaluated for patient care."

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