Papers

Association between competing interests and authors' conclusions: epidemiological study of randomised clinical trials published in the BMJ

BMJ 2002; 325 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.325.7358.249 (Published 03 August 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;325:249
  1. LiseL Kjaergard, research fellow (Kjaergard{at}ctu.rh.dk),
  2. Bodil Als-Nielsen, research fellow.
  1. Cochrane Hepatobiliary Group, Copenhagen Trial Unit, Centre for Clinical Intervention Research, Copenhagen University Hospital, Department 7102, H:S Rigshospitalet, DK-2100 Copenhagen, Denmark
  1. Correspondence to: L L Kjaergard
  • Accepted 20 February 2002

Abstract

Objective: To assess the association between competing interests and authors' conclusions in randomised clinical trials.

Design: Epidemiological study of randomised clinical trials published in the BMJ from January 1997 to June 2001. Financial competing interests were defined as funding by for profit organisations and other competing interests as personal, academic, or political.

Studies: 159 trials from 12 medical specialties.

Main outcome measures: Authors' conclusions defined as interpretation of extent to which overall results favoured experimental intervention. Conclusions appraised on 6 point scale; higher scores favour experimental intervention.

Results: Authors' conclusions were significantly more positive towards the experimental intervention in trials funded by for profit organisations alone compared with trials without competing interests (mean difference 0.48 (SE 0.13), P=0.014), trials funded by both for profit and non-profit organisations (0.30 (SE 0.10), P=0.003), and trials with other competing interests (0.45 (SE 0.13), P=0.006). Other competing interests and funding from both for profit and non-profit organisations were not significantly associated with authors' conclusions. The association between financial competing interests and authors' conclusions was not explained by methodological quality, statistical power, type of experimental intervention (pharmacological or non-pharmacological), type of control intervention (for example, placebo or active drug), or medical specialty.

Conclusions: Authors' conclusions in randomised clinical trials significantly favoured experimental interventions if financial competing interests were declared. Other competing interests were not significantly associated with authors' conclusions.

Footnotes

  • Funding Danish Medical Research Council; 1991 Pharmacy Foundation, Denmark; Copenhagen Hospital Corporation Medical Research Council; Danish Institute of Health Technology Assessments.

  • Competing interests None declared.

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