Intended for healthcare professionals


Seeing what you want to see in randomised controlled trials

BMJ 2000; 321 doi: (Published 28 October 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;321:1078

Authors' choice of study was ill informed

  1. Rury Holman, UKPDS principal investigator. (
  1. Diabetes Trials Unit University of Oxford, Oxford OX2 6HE
  2. Department of General Practice and Community Medicine, University of Oslo, Box 1130 Blindern, N-0318 Oslo, Norway
  3. Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada V6T 1W5
  4. Department of Primary Care and Population Sciences, Royal Free and University College Medical School, London N19 3UA

    EDITOR—McCormack and Greenhalgh's suggestion that those involved in running and reporting clinical trials might be able to engineer a worldwide “groupthink” spin on the results is an intriguing notion.1 But their choice of the United Kingdom prospective diabetes study (UKPDS) as an example to support their hypothesis is ill informed given the manner in which this study was reported.

    We note with interest Greenhalgh's earlier commentary on an article by Horton concerning the “spin that authors place on their own work.”2 In this, she highlighted the “unjustified assumption that this spin is necessarily evil, insidious, and the last remaining bastion of caprice in the otherwise objective terrain of scientific publication,” and she challenged Horton to “produce a single, clinically important instance of scientific heads being turned by rhetoric and rhetoric alone.”

    There was a complete embargo on all outcome data from the United Kingdom prospective diabetes study before their presentation at a meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes on 12 September 1998. To avoid the usual scenario whereby conference reports are given wide publicity before peer reviewed manuscripts are available, the UKPDS Group worked closely with the editors of the Lancet and the BMJ to ensure that as many of the primary results as possible were published in five peer reviewed papers on the same day as our conference presentation. In addition, 100 slides illustrating the published data were made available on our website at midnight that day (

    We believe that the manuscripts …

    View Full Text

    Log in

    Log in through your institution


    * For online subscription