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Evidence that industry may be better than academia at prospective trial registration, though improvements are required

In 2005, the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) introduced mandatory trial registration guidelines and member journals require prospective registration of trials prior to patient enrolment as a condition of publication.

The objectives of this study published in PLOS ONE were to determine the extent to which articles published in psychiatry journals adhering to ICMJE guidelines were correctly prospectively registered. Any clinical trial (as defined by ICMJE) published between 1 January 2009 and 31 July 2013 in the top five psychiatry journals adhering to ICMJE guidelines (The American Journal of Psychiatry, Archives of General Psychiatry/JAMA Psychiatry, Biological Psychiatry, Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry) and conducted after July 2005 (or 2007 for two journals) was included.

A total of 181 studies were identified as clinical trials requiring registration. However, of these, only 60 (33.1%) studies were prospectively registered. Prospective registration occurred more frequently with pharmaceutical funding. Thirty-seven per cent of pharmaceutically-funded trials were properly registered with no changes to POMs versus 6% of private trials, 10.3% of publicly funded trials and 10% of those with a combination of funding. This difference was statistically significant.

The authors concluded: “It is clear that while there are guidelines in place to decontaminate the medical literature, authors, reviewers and journal editors need to work together to ensure that these guidelines are upheld.”.

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Ryan co-runs Aspire Scientific, a dynamic, forward-thinking medical writing agency. Ryan has a passion for innovation, science and ethical communication.

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