What’s in a CLINICAL TRIAL? Simple – a lot of bias about the benefits and the harms of what is being tried! We like to report on the benefits but not the harms. This new research published in the British Medical Journal highlights the deficiencies in how clinical trial outcomes are reported. As one researcher has put it: ‘When we looked at that data, it actually showed an increase in harm amongst those who got the active treatment, and we ditched it because we weren’t expecting it and we were concerned that the presentation of these data would have an impact on people’s understanding of the study findings.” Indeed it would!
This is an under-recognised issue affecting key reviews (e.g in the Cochrane database and in systematic reviews) – these are the ones on which we base our views on the evidence FOR a particular treatment. There should be full data on harms in all reviews that we can use as evidence AGAINST use of a particular treatment.