Intended for healthcare professionals


An amnesty for unpublished trials

BMJ 1997; 315 doi: (Published 13 September 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;315:622

Send us details on any unreported trials

  1. Richard Smith, Editor, BMJa,
  2. Ian Roberts, Directora
  1. a Child Health Monitoring Unit, Institute of Child Health, London WC1N 1EH

    This month over 100 medical journals around the world are inviting readers to send information on unpublished trials. This amnesty should have important benefits for patients. Why?

    Reports of properly conducted randomised controlled trials are the foundation of effective health care, but many are not submitted for publication.1 2 This reduces the power of systematic reviews to detect moderate but clinically important treatment effects. Patients may thus be denied effective forms of health care. A second problem is that since trials that show more promising effects are more likely to be submitted, research syntheses can give misleading conclusions about effectiveness. Patients may thus be exposed to useless or …

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