Health Research Authority outlines plans to improve transparency of UK clinical research

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: (Published 29 October 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f6555
  1. Adrian O’Dowd
  1. 1London

The body that represents the interests of UK patients in health research is working on ways to ensure that the results of clinical studies see the light of day.

Plans to improve NHS research were detailed in the Health Research Authority’s official response to MPs on the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee. The authority also said that it would be looking at ways to speed up how quickly proposed research studies could start.

Its plans were published on 29 October,1 in response to the MPs’ report Clinical Trials, published on 17 September.2 3

In their report the MPs called on the government to improve the current system for clinical trials in the United Kingdom, which allowed many results of research to never be published and which meant a lack of transparency in the results and conduct of clinical trials.

In the latest report the Health Research Authority said that it had already taken steps in many of the areas identified by MPs to improve awareness, promote transparency, and improve efficiency in the regulation of health research in the UK.

The authority was proposing to devote more resources to streamline the process of research approval, by merging the research and development approval and research ethics committee stages into a single assessment and approval stage.

The authority said that it was fully committed to the transparency agenda outlined by MPs and that it had announced the implementation of the first of a series of measures from 30 September. It had specified that registration of clinical trials in a publicly accessible database was to be a condition of the favourable ethical opinion given by research ethics committees.4

“We have stated that we expect all studies to be registered and published,” said the authority, adding, “We will, in addition to trial registration, work with partners to understand what is meant by publication and to make sure that where research is undertaken, it is subsequently published according to plans agreed with the REC [research ethics committee] at the time of approval.”

The authority is also to carry out an audit of completed studies to more fully understand publication and registration rates in the UK.


Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f6555


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