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It’s magic! Registered clinical trials vanish positive findings

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From Nature:

A 1997 US law mandated the registry’s creation, requiring researchers from 2000 to record their trial methods and outcome measures before collecting data. The study found that in a sample of 55 large trials testing heart-disease treatments, 57% of those published before 2000 reported positive effects from the treatments. But that figure plunged to just 8% in studies that were conducted after 2000. Study author Veronica Irvin, a health scientist at Oregon State University in Corvallis, says this suggests that registering clinical studies is leading to more rigorous research. Writing on his NeuroLogica Blog, neurologist Steven Novella of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, called the study “encouraging” but also “a bit frightening” because it casts doubt on previous positive results.

Agreed. Yikes! People’s lives might be at stake.

Irvin says that by having to state their methods and measurements before starting their trial, researchers cannot then cherry-pick data to find an effect once the study is over. “It’s more difficult for investigators to selectively report some outcomes and exclude others,” she says.

Now, there’s a cherry tree that should enter eternity as a  fine rolltop desk.

See also: Retraction Watch for regular updates on these problems


If peer review is working, why all the retractions?

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4 Replies to “It’s magic! Registered clinical trials vanish positive findings

  1. 1
    phoodoo says:

    Wait, Steven Novella called the study encouraging but frightening? What was encouraging about it? And why should this come as a surprise to Novella, I thought he was supposed to be skeptical about things?

    Oh wait, he is a “skeptic”, I forgot that means he accepts whatever big business and big pharma tells him without question. Did you know GMO foods are totally safe? Just ask Novella, he will tell you. He is an expert on everything he is told. So what if he doesn’t know the facts.

  2. 2
    PaV says:

    Let’s hear it for peer-review.

  3. 3
    Axel says:

    This article may interest you folk. Perhaps you think it worth your basing a thread on it, Denyse. Please, no attribution though. I have a vestige of pride left…!

  4. 4
    Axel says:

    I hope you didn’t misunderstand me, Denyse. I meant I wouldn’t have wanted any credit for just finding it, not that I was intending to demean it. Not that it proved up to much in the event.

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