Data interpretation in analgesic clinical trials
Randomized controlled trials (RCT) are used primarily to evaluate specific treatment procedures and inform clinicians, patients and policy makers. However, misrepresentation or selective emphasis of statistically non-significant research findings, here referred to as ‘spin’, can affect the way people make decisions about treatment and health policies.
The aim of this study was to investigate the prevalence of spin in reports of analgesic clinical trials. A total of 6207 articles from 6 major pain journals were screened and 76 articles were included in the study. The presence of four types of spin was analysed in publications of analgesic RCTs with non-significant primary results. 66% of the articles analysed in this study reported some sort of spin in the abstract and more then half of the studies had some type of spin in the main text, which is generally consistent with the occurrence of spin in other therapeutic areas.
Spin in RCTs could lead to misinterpretation of results and might have an affect on clinical- and health decision making. The results of RCTs must be communicated in such a way that it limits confusion and that the limitations of the evidence are clear.
> From: Gewandter et al., J Pain 16 (2015) 3-10. All rights reserved to Elsevier Inc. . Click here for the Pubmed summary.