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1.  Timing and Completeness of Trial Results Posted at ClinicalTrials.gov and Published in Journals 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(12):e1001566.
Agnes Dechartres and colleagues searched ClinicalTrials.gov for completed drug RCTs with results reported and then searched for corresponding studies in PubMed to evaluate timeliness and completeness of reporting.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
The US Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act requires results from clinical trials of Food and Drug Administration–approved drugs to be posted at ClinicalTrials.gov within 1 y after trial completion. We compared the timing and completeness of results of drug trials posted at ClinicalTrials.gov and published in journals.
Methods and Findings
We searched ClinicalTrials.gov on March 27, 2012, for randomized controlled trials of drugs with posted results. For a random sample of these trials, we searched PubMed for corresponding publications. Data were extracted independently from ClinicalTrials.gov and from the published articles for trials with results both posted and published. We assessed the time to first public posting or publishing of results and compared the completeness of results posted at ClinicalTrials.gov versus published in journal articles. Completeness was defined as the reporting of all key elements, according to three experts, for the flow of participants, efficacy results, adverse events, and serious adverse events (e.g., for adverse events, reporting of the number of adverse events per arm, without restriction to statistically significant differences between arms for all randomized patients or for those who received at least one treatment dose).
From the 600 trials with results posted at ClinicalTrials.gov, we randomly sampled 50% (n = 297) had no corresponding published article. For trials with both posted and published results (n = 202), the median time between primary completion date and first results publicly posted was 19 mo (first quartile = 14, third quartile = 30 mo), and the median time between primary completion date and journal publication was 21 mo (first quartile = 14, third quartile = 28 mo). Reporting was significantly more complete at ClinicalTrials.gov than in the published article for the flow of participants (64% versus 48% of trials, p<0.001), efficacy results (79% versus 69%, p = 0.02), adverse events (73% versus 45%, p<0.001), and serious adverse events (99% versus 63%, p<0.001).
The main study limitation was that we considered only the publication describing the results for the primary outcomes.
Conclusions
Our results highlight the need to search ClinicalTrials.gov for both unpublished and published trials. Trial results, especially serious adverse events, are more completely reported at ClinicalTrials.gov than in the published article.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
When patients consult a doctor, they expect to be recommended what their doctor believes is the most effective treatment with the fewest adverse effects. To determine which treatment to recommend, clinicians rely on sources that include research studies. Among studies, the best evidence is generally agreed to come from systematic reviews and randomized controlled clinical trials (RCTs), studies that test the efficacy and safety of medical interventions by comparing clinical outcomes in groups of patients randomly chosen to receive different interventions. Decision-making based on the best available evidence is called evidence-based medicine. However, evidence-based medicine can only guide clinicians if trial results are published in a timely and complete manner. Unfortunately, underreporting of trials is common. For example, an RCT in which a new drug performs better than existing drugs is more likely to be published than one in which the new drug performs badly or has unwanted adverse effects (publication bias). There can also be a delay in publishing the results of negative trials (time-lag bias) or a failure to publish complete results for all the prespecified outcomes of a trial (reporting bias). All three types of bias threaten informed medical decision-making and the health of patients.
Why Was This Study Done?
One initiative that aims to prevent these biases was included in the 2007 US Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act (FDAAA). The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for approving drugs and devices that are marketed in the US. The FDAAA requires that results from clinical trials of FDA-approved drugs and devices conducted in the United States be made publicly available at ClinicalTrials.gov within one year of trial completion. ClinicalTrials.gov—a web-based registry that includes US and international clinical trials—was established in 2000 in response to the 1997 FDA Modernization Act, which required mandatory registration of trial titles and designs and of the conditions and interventions under study. The FDAAA expanded these mandatory requirements by requiring researchers studying FDA-approved drugs and devices to report additional information such as the baseline characteristics of the participants in each arm of the trial and the results of primary and secondary outcome measures (the effects of the intervention on predefined clinical measurements) and their statistical significance (an indication of whether differences in outcomes might have happened by chance). Researchers of other trials registered in ClinicalTrials.gov are welcome to post trial results as well. Here, the researchers compare the timing and completeness (i.e., whether all relevant information was fully reported) of results of drug trials posted at ClinicalTrials.gov with those published in medical journals.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers searched ClinicalTrials.gov for reports of completed phase III and IV (late-stage) RCTs of drugs with posted results. For a random sample of 600 eligible trials, they searched PubMed (a database of biomedical publications) for corresponding publications. Only 50% of trials with results posted at ClinicalTrials.gov had a matching published article. For 202 trials with both posted and published results, the researchers compared the timing and completeness of the results posted at ClinicalTrials.gov and of results reported in the corresponding journal publication. The median time between the study completion date and the first results being publicly posted at ClinicalTrials.gov was 19 months, whereas the time between completion and publication in a journal was 21 months. The flow of participants through trials was completely reported in 64% of the ClinicalTrials.gov postings but in only 48% of the corresponding publications. Results for the primary outcome measure were completely reported in 79% and 69% of the ClinicalTrials.gov postings and corresponding publications, respectively. Finally, adverse events were completely reported in 73% of the ClinicalTrials.gov postings but in only 45% of the corresponding publications, and serious adverse events were reported in 99% and 63% of the ClinicalTrials.gov postings and corresponding publications, respectively.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that the reporting of trial results is significantly more complete at ClinicalTrials.gov than in published journal articles reporting the main trial results. Certain aspects of this study may affect the accuracy of this conclusion. For example, the researchers compared the results posted at ClinicalTrials.gov only with the results in the publication that described the primary outcome of each trial, even though some trials had multiple publications. Importantly, these findings suggest that, to enable patients and physicians to make informed treatment decisions, experts undertaking assessments of drugs should consider seeking efficacy and safety data posted at ClinicalTrials.gov, both for trials whose results are not published yet and for trials whose results are published. Moreover, they suggest that the use of templates to guide standardized reporting of trial results in journals and broader mandatory posting of results may help to improve the reporting and transparency of clinical trials and, consequently, the evidence available to inform treatment of patients.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001566.
Wikipedia has pages on evidence-based medicine and on publication bias (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
The US Food and Drug Administration provides information about drug approval in the US for consumers and health-care professionals, plus detailed information on the 2007 Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act
ClinicalTrials.gov provides information about the US National Institutes of Health clinical trial registry, including background information about clinical trials, and a fact sheet detailing the requirements of the 2007 Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act
PLOS Medicine recently launched a Reporting Guidelines Collection, an open access collection of reporting guidelines, commentary, and related research on guidelines from across PLOS journals that aims to help advance the efficiency, effectiveness, and equitability of the dissemination of biomedical information; a 2008 PLOS Medicine editorial discusses the 2007 Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001566
PMCID: PMC3849189  PMID: 24311990
2.  Informing Potential Participants about Research: Observational Study with an Embedded Randomized Controlled Trial 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e76435.
Objectives
To assess: 1) the feasibility of electronic information provision; 2) gather evidence on the topics and level of detail of information potential research participant’s accessed; 3) to assess satisfaction and understanding.
Design
Observational study with an embedded randomised controlled trial.
Setting
Low risk intervention study based in primary care.
Participants
White British & Irish, South Asian and African-Caribbean subjects aged between 40-74 years eligible for a blood pressure monitoring study.
Interventions
PDF copy of the standard paper participant information sheet (PDF-PIS) and an electronic Interactive Information Sheet (IIS) where participants could choose both the type and level of detail accessed.
Main Outcome Measures
1) Proportion of participants providing an email address and accessing electronic information 2) Willingness to participate in a recruitment clinic. 3) Type and depth of information accessed on the IIS. 4) Participant satisfaction and understanding.
Results
1160 participants were eligible for the study. Of these, 276 (24%) provided an active email address, of whom 84 did not respond to the email. 106 responded to the email but chose not to access any electronic information and were therefore ineligible for randomisation. 42 were randomised to receive the PDF-PIS and 44 to receive the IIS (with consent rates of 48% and 36%, respectively; odds ratio 0.6, 95% confidence interval 0.25 to 1.4). Electronic observation of information accessed by potential participants showed 41% chose to access no information and only 9% accessed the detail presented on the Research Ethics Committee approved participant information sheet before booking to attend a recruitment clinic for the intervention study. 63 of the 106 participants (59%) who chose not to access any electronic information also booked an appointment.
Conclusions
Current written information about research may not be read, emphasising the importance of the consent interview and consideration of new ways of presenting complex information.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0076435
PMCID: PMC3789820  PMID: 24098499
3.  Performance of Rapid Diagnostic Tests for Imported Malaria in Clinical Practice: Results of a National Multicenter Study 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e75486.
We compared the performance of four rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) for imported malaria, and particularly Plasmodium falciparum infection, using thick and thin blood smears as the gold standard. All the tests are designed to detect at least one protein specific to P. falciparum (Plasmodium histidine-rich protein 2 (PfHRP2) or Plasmodium LDH (PfLDH)) and one pan-Plasmodium protein (aldolase or Plasmodium LDH (pLDH)). 1,311 consecutive patients presenting to 9 French hospitals with suspected malaria were included in this prospective study between April 2006 and September 2008. Blood smears revealed malaria parasites in 374 cases (29%). For the diagnosis of P. falciparum infection, the three tests detecting PfHRP2 showed high and similar sensitivity (96%), positive predictive value (PPV) (90%) and negative predictive value (NPV) (98%). The PfLDH test showed lower sensitivity (83%) and NPV (80%), despite good PPV (98%). For the diagnosis of non-falciparum species, the PPV and NPV of tests targeting pLDH or aldolase were 94–99% and 52–64%, respectively. PfHRP2-based RDTs are thus an acceptable alternative to routine microscopy for diagnosing P. falciparum malaria. However, as malaria may be misdiagnosed with RDTs, all negative results must be confirmed by the reference diagnostic method when clinical, biological or other factors are highly suggestive of malaria.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0075486
PMCID: PMC3787089  PMID: 24098699
5.  Incorporation of assessments of risk of bias of primary studies in systematic reviews of randomised trials: a cross-sectional study 
BMJ Open  2013;3(8):e003342.
Objective
We examined how assessments of risk of bias of primary studies are carried out and incorporated into the statistical analysis and overall findings of a systematic review.
Design
A cross-sectional review.
Sample
We assessed 200 systematic reviews of randomised trials published between January and March 2012; Cochrane (n=100), non-Cochrane (Database of Reviews of Effects) (n=100).
Main outcomes
Our primary outcome was a descriptive analysis of how assessments of risk of bias are carried out, the methods used, and the extent to which such assessments were incorporated into the statistical analysis and overall review findings.
Results
While Cochrane reviews routinely reported the method of risk of bias assessment and presented their results either in text or table format, 20% of non-Cochrane reviews failed to report the method used and 39% did not present the assessment results. Where it was possible to evaluate the individual results of the risk of bias assessment (n=154), 75% (n=116/154) of reviews had ≥1 trial at high risk of bias; the median proportion of trials per review at high risk of bias was 50% (IQR 31% to 89%). Despite this, only 56% (n=65/116) incorporated the risk of bias assessment into the interpretation of the results in the abstract and 41% (n=47/116) (49%; n=40/81 Cochrane and 20%; n=7/35 non-Cochrane) incorporated the risk of bias assessment into the interpretation of the conclusions. Of the 83% (n=166/200) systematic reviews which included a meta-analysis, only 11% (n=19/166) incorporated the risk of bias assessment into the statistical analysis.
Conclusions
Cochrane reviews were more likely than non-Cochrane reviews to report how risk of bias assessments of primary studies were carried out; however, both frequently failed to take such assessments into account in the statistical analysis and conclusions of the systematic review.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2013-003342
PMCID: PMC3753473  PMID: 23975265
Statistics & Research Methods; Epidemiology; General Medicine (see Internal Medicine)
6.  The Scleroderma Patient-centered Intervention Network (SPIN) Cohort: protocol for a cohort multiple randomised controlled trial (cmRCT) design to support trials of psychosocial and rehabilitation interventions in a rare disease context 
BMJ Open  2013;3(8):e003563.
Introduction
Psychosocial and rehabilitation interventions are increasingly used to attenuate disability and improve health-related quality of life (HRQL) in chronic diseases, but are typically not available for patients with rare diseases. Conducting rigorous, adequately powered trials of these interventions for patients with rare diseases is difficult. The Scleroderma Patient-centered Intervention Network (SPIN) is an international collaboration of patient organisations, clinicians and researchers. The aim of SPIN is to develop a research infrastructure to test accessible, low-cost self-guided online interventions to reduce disability and improve HRQL for people living with the rare disease systemic sclerosis (SSc or scleroderma). Once tested, effective interventions will be made accessible through patient organisations partnering with SPIN.
Methods and analysis
SPIN will employ the cohort multiple randomised controlled trial (cmRCT) design, in which patients consent to participate in a cohort for ongoing data collection. The aim is to recruit 1500–2000 patients from centres across the world within a period of 5 years (2013–2018). Eligible participants are persons ≥18 years of age with a diagnosis of SSc. In addition to baseline medical data, participants will complete patient-reported outcome measures every 3 months. Upon enrolment in the cohort, patients will consent to be contacted in the future to participate in intervention research and to allow their data to be used for comparison purposes for interventions tested with other cohort participants. Once interventions are developed, patients from the cohort will be randomly selected and offered interventions as part of pragmatic RCTs. Outcomes from patients offered interventions will be compared with outcomes from trial-eligible patients who are not offered the interventions.
Ethics and dissemination
The use of the cmRCT design, the development of self-guided online interventions and partnerships with patient organisations will allow SPIN to develop, rigourously test and effectively disseminate psychosocial and rehabilitation interventions for people with SSc.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2013-003563
PMCID: PMC3740254  PMID: 23929922
Rheumatology; Statistics & Research Methods; Rehabilitation Medicine; Mental Health
7.  Systematic Review of the Empirical Evidence of Study Publication Bias and Outcome Reporting Bias — An Updated Review 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e66844.
Background
The increased use of meta-analysis in systematic reviews of healthcare interventions has highlighted several types of bias that can arise during the completion of a randomised controlled trial. Study publication bias and outcome reporting bias have been recognised as a potential threat to the validity of meta-analysis and can make the readily available evidence unreliable for decision making.
Methodology/Principal Findings
In this update, we review and summarise the evidence from cohort studies that have assessed study publication bias or outcome reporting bias in randomised controlled trials. Twenty studies were eligible of which four were newly identified in this update. Only two followed the cohort all the way through from protocol approval to information regarding publication of outcomes. Fifteen of the studies investigated study publication bias and five investigated outcome reporting bias. Three studies have found that statistically significant outcomes had a higher odds of being fully reported compared to non-significant outcomes (range of odds ratios: 2.2 to 4.7). In comparing trial publications to protocols, we found that 40–62% of studies had at least one primary outcome that was changed, introduced, or omitted. We decided not to undertake meta-analysis due to the differences between studies.
Conclusions
This update does not change the conclusions of the review in which 16 studies were included. Direct empirical evidence for the existence of study publication bias and outcome reporting bias is shown. There is strong evidence of an association between significant results and publication; studies that report positive or significant results are more likely to be published and outcomes that are statistically significant have higher odds of being fully reported. Publications have been found to be inconsistent with their protocols. Researchers need to be aware of the problems of both types of bias and efforts should be concentrated on improving the reporting of trials.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0066844
PMCID: PMC3702538  PMID: 23861749
8.  Comparison of Treatment Effect Estimates for Pharmacological Randomized Controlled Trials Enrolling Older Adults Only and Those including Adults: A Meta-Epidemiological Study 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e63677.
Context
Older adults are underrepresented in clinical research. To assess therapeutic efficacy in older patients, some randomized controlled trials (RCTs) include older adults only.
Objective
To compare treatment effects between RCTs including older adults only (elderly RCTs) and RCTs including all adults (adult RCTs) by a meta-epidemiological approach.
Methods
All systematic reviews published in the Cochrane Library (Issue 4, 2011) were screened. Eligible studies were meta-analyses of binary outcomes of pharmacologic treatment including at least one elderly RCT and at least one adult RCT. For each meta-analysis, we compared summary odds ratios for elderly RCTs and adult RCTs by calculating a ratio of odds ratios (ROR). A summary ROR was estimated across all meta-analyses.
Results
We selected 55 meta-analyses including 524 RCTs (17% elderly RCTs). The treatment effects differed beyond that expected by chance for 7 (13%) meta-analyses, showing more favourable treatment effects in elderly RCTs in 5 cases and in adult RCTs in 2 cases. The summary ROR was 0.91 (95% CI, 0.77–1.08, p = 0.28), with substantial heterogeneity (I2 = 51% and τ2 = 0.14). Sensitivity and subgroup analyses by type-of-age RCT (elderly RCTs vs RCTs excluding older adults and vs RCTs of mixed-age adults), type of outcome (mortality or other) and type of comparator (placebo or active drug) yielded similar results.
Conclusions
The efficacy of pharmacologic treatments did not significantly differ, on average, between RCTs including older adults only and RCTs of all adults. However, clinically important discrepancies may occur and should be considered when generalizing evidence from all adults to older adults.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0063677
PMCID: PMC3665786  PMID: 23723992
9.  Reporting of analyses from randomized controlled trials with multiple arms: a systematic review 
BMC Medicine  2013;11:84.
Background
Multiple-arm randomized trials can be more complex in their design, data analysis, and result reporting than two-arm trials. We conducted a systematic review to assess the reporting of analyses in reports of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) with multiple arms.
Methods
The literature in the MEDLINE database was searched for reports of RCTs with multiple arms published in 2009 in the core clinical journals. Two reviewers extracted data using a standardized extraction form.
Results
In total, 298 reports were identified. Descriptions of the baseline characteristics and outcomes per group were missing in 45 reports (15.1%) and 48 reports (16.1%), respectively. More than half of the articles (n = 171, 57.4%) reported that a planned global test comparison was used (that is, assessment of the global differences between all groups), but 67 (39.2%) of these 171 articles did not report details of the planned analysis. Of the 116 articles reporting a global comparison test, 12 (10.3%) did not report the analysis as planned. In all, 60% of publications (n = 180) described planned pairwise test comparisons (that is, assessment of the difference between two groups), but 20 of these 180 articles (11.1%) did not report the pairwise test comparisons. Of the 204 articles reporting pairwise test comparisons, the comparisons were not planned for 44 (21.6%) of them. Less than half the reports (n = 137; 46%) provided baseline and outcome data per arm and reported the analysis as planned.
Conclusions
Our findings highlight discrepancies between the planning and reporting of analyses in reports of multiple-arm trials.
doi:10.1186/1741-7015-11-84
PMCID: PMC3621416  PMID: 23531230
Systematic review; Randomized controlled trials; Multiple arms; Reporting of analyses
10.  Observer bias in randomized clinical trials with measurement scale outcomes: a systematic review of trials with both blinded and nonblinded assessors 
Background:
Clinical trials are commonly done without blinded outcome assessors despite the risk of bias. We wanted to evaluate the effect of nonblinded outcome assessment on estimated effects in randomized clinical trials with outcomes that involved subjective measurement scales.
Methods:
We conducted a systematic review of randomized clinical trials with both blinded and nonblinded assessment of the same measurement scale outcome. We searched PubMed, EMBASE, PsycINFO, CINAHL, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, HighWire Press and Google Scholar for relevant studies. Two investigators agreed on the inclusion of trials and the outcome scale. For each trial, we calculated the difference in effect size (i.e., standardized mean difference between nonblinded and blinded assessments). A difference in effect size of less than 0 suggested that nonblinded assessors generated more optimistic estimates of effect. We pooled the differences in effect size using inverse variance random-effects meta-analysis and used metaregression to identify potential reasons for variation.
Results:
We included 24 trials in our review. The main meta-analysis included 16 trials (involving 2854 patients) with subjective outcomes. The estimated treatment effect was more beneficial when based on nonblinded assessors (pooled difference in effect size −0.23 [95% confidence interval (CI) −0.40 to −0.06]). In relative terms, nonblinded assessors exaggerated the pooled effect size by 68% (95% CI 14% to 230%). Heterogeneity was moderate (I2 = 46%, p = 0.02) and unexplained by metaregression.
Interpretation:
We provide empirical evidence for observer bias in randomized clinical trials with subjective measurement scale outcomes. A failure to blind assessors of outcomes in such trials results in a high risk of substantial bias.
doi:10.1503/cmaj.120744
PMCID: PMC3589328  PMID: 23359047
11.  Centre Selection for Clinical Trials and the Generalisability of Results: A Mixed Methods Study 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e56560.
Background
The rationale for centre selection in randomised controlled trials (RCTs) is often unclear but may have important implications for the generalisability of trial results. The aims of this study were to evaluate the factors which currently influence centre selection in RCTs and consider how generalisability considerations inform current and optimal practice.
Methods and Findings
Mixed methods approach consisting of a systematic review and meta-summary of centre selection criteria reported in RCT protocols funded by the UK National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) initiated between January 2005-January 2012; and an online survey on the topic of current and optimal centre selection, distributed to professionals in the 48 UK Clinical Trials Units and 10 NIHR Research Design Services. The survey design was informed by the systematic review and by two focus groups conducted with trialists at the Birmingham Centre for Clinical Trials. 129 trial protocols were included in the systematic review, with a total target sample size in excess of 317,000 participants. The meta-summary identified 53 unique centre selection criteria. 78 protocols (60%) provided at least one criterion for centre selection, but only 31 (24%) protocols explicitly acknowledged generalisability. This is consistent with the survey findings (n = 70), where less than a third of participants reported generalisability as a key driver of centre selection in current practice. This contrasts with trialists’ views on optimal practice, where generalisability in terms of clinical practice, population characteristics and economic results were prime considerations for 60% (n = 42), 57% (n = 40) and 46% (n = 32) of respondents, respectively.
Conclusions
Centres are rarely enrolled in RCTs with an explicit view to external validity, although trialists acknowledge that incorporating generalisability in centre selection should ideally be more prominent. There is a need to operationalize ‘generalisability’ and incorporate it at the design stage of RCTs so that results are readily transferable to ‘real world’ practice.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0056560
PMCID: PMC3579829  PMID: 23451055
12.  Effects of the Endpoint Adjudication Process on the Results of a Randomised Controlled Trial: The ADVANCE Trial 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e55807.
Background
Endpoint adjudication committees (EPAC) are widely used in clinical trials. The aim of the present analysis is to assess the effects of the endpoint adjudication process on the main findings of the ADVANCE trial (Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00145925).
Methods and Findings
The ADVANCE trial was a multicentre, 2×2 factorial randomised controlled trial of blood pressure lowering and intensive blood glucose control in 11140 patients with type 2 diabetes. Primary outcomes were major macrovascular (nonfatal myocardial infarction, nonfatal stroke and cardiovascular death) and microvascular (new or worsening nephropathy and retinopathy) events. Suspected primary outcomes were initially reported by the investigators at the 215 sites with subsequent adjudication by the EPAC. The EPAC also adjudicated upon potential events identified directly by ongoing screening of all reported events. Over a median follow-up of 5 years, the site investigators reported one or more primary outcomes among 2443 participants. After adjudication these events were confirmed for 2077 (85%) with 48 further events added through the EPAC-led database screening process. The estimated relative risk reductions (95% confidence intervals) in the primary outcome for the blood pressure lowering comparison were 8% (−1 to 15%) based on the investigator-reported events and 9% (0 to 17%) based on the EPAC-based events (P for homogeneity = 0.70). The corresponding findings for the glucose comparison were 8% (1 to 15%) and 10% (2% to 18%) (P for homogeneity = 0.60). The effect estimates were also highly comparable when studied separately for macrovascular events and microvascular events for both comparisons (all P for homogeneity>0.6).
Conclusions
The endpoint adjudication process had no discernible impact on the main findings in ADVANCE. These data highlight the need for careful consideration of the likely impact of an EPAC on the findings and conclusions of clinical trials prior to their establishment.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0055807
PMCID: PMC3563633  PMID: 23390553
13.  Development and Validation of a Questionnaire Assessing Fears and Beliefs of Patients with Knee Osteoarthritis: The Knee Osteoarthritis Fears and Beliefs Questionnaire (KOFBeQ) 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e53886.
Objective
We aimed to develop a questionnaire assessing fears and beliefs of patients with knee OA.
Design
We sent a detailed document reporting on a qualitative analysis of interviews of patients with knee OA to experts, and a Delphi procedure was adopted for item generation. Then, 80 physicians recruited 566 patients with knee OA to test the provisional questionnaire. Items were reduced according to their metric properties and exploratory factor analysis. Reliability was tested by the Cronbach α coefficient. Construct validity was tested by divergent validity and confirmatory factor analysis. Test–retest reliability was assessed by the intra-class correlation coefficient (ICC) and the Bland and Altman technique.
Results
137 items were extracted from analysis of the interview data. Three Delphi rounds were needed to obtain consensus on a 25-item provisional questionnaire. The item-reduction process resulted in an 11-item questionnaire. Selected items represented fears and beliefs about daily living activities (3 items), fears and beliefs about physicians (4 items), fears and beliefs about the disease (2 items), and fears and beliefs about sports and leisure activities (2 items). The Cronbach α coefficient of global score was 0.85. We observed expected divergent validity. Confirmation factor analyses confirmed higher intra-factor than inter-factor correlations. Test–retest reliability was good, with an ICC of 0.81, and Bland and Altman analysis did not reveal a systematic trend.
Conclusions
We propose an 11-item questionnaire assessing patients' fears and beliefs concerning knee OA with good content and construct validity.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0053886
PMCID: PMC3549996  PMID: 23349757
14.  Why Most Biomedical Findings Echoed by Newspapers Turn Out to be False: The Case of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e44275.
Context
Because positive biomedical observations are more often published than those reporting no effect, initial observations are often refuted or attenuated by subsequent studies.
Objective
To determine whether newspapers preferentially report on initial findings and whether they also report on subsequent studies.
Methods
We focused on attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Using Factiva and PubMed databases, we identified 47 scientific publications on ADHD published in the 1990s and soon echoed by 347 newspapers articles. We selected the ten most echoed publications and collected all their relevant subsequent studies until 2011. We checked whether findings reported in each “top 10” publication were consistent with previous and subsequent observations. We also compared the newspaper coverage of the “top 10” publications to that of their related scientific studies.
Results
Seven of the “top 10” publications were initial studies and the conclusions in six of them were either refuted or strongly attenuated subsequently. The seventh was not confirmed or refuted, but its main conclusion appears unlikely. Among the three “top 10” that were not initial studies, two were confirmed subsequently and the third was attenuated. The newspaper coverage of the “top 10” publications (223 articles) was much larger than that of the 67 related studies (57 articles). Moreover, only one of the latter newspaper articles reported that the corresponding “top 10” finding had been attenuated. The average impact factor of the scientific journals publishing studies echoed by newspapers (17.1 n = 56) was higher (p<0.0001) than that corresponding to related publications that were not echoed (6.4 n = 56).
Conclusion
Because newspapers preferentially echo initial ADHD findings appearing in prominent journals, they report on uncertain findings that are often refuted or attenuated by subsequent studies. If this media reporting bias generalizes to health sciences, it represents a major cause of distortion in health science communication.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0044275
PMCID: PMC3440402  PMID: 22984483
15.  Misrepresentation of Randomized Controlled Trials in Press Releases and News Coverage: A Cohort Study 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(9):e1001308.
A study conducted by Amélie Yavchitz and colleagues examines the factors associated with “spin” (specific reporting strategies, intentional or unintentional, that emphasize the beneficial effect of treatments) in press releases of clinical trials.
Background
Previous studies indicate that in published reports, trial results can be distorted by the use of “spin” (specific reporting strategies, intentional or unintentional, emphasizing the beneficial effect of the experimental treatment). We aimed to (1) evaluate the presence of “spin” in press releases and associated media coverage; and (2) evaluate whether findings of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) based on press releases and media coverage are misinterpreted.
Methods and Findings
We systematically searched for all press releases indexed in the EurekAlert! database between December 2009 and March 2010. Of the 498 press releases retrieved and screened, we included press releases for all two-arm, parallel-group RCTs (n = 70). We obtained a copy of the scientific article to which the press release related and we systematically searched for related news items using Lexis Nexis.
“Spin,” defined as specific reporting strategies (intentional or unintentional) emphasizing the beneficial effect of the experimental treatment, was identified in 28 (40%) scientific article abstract conclusions and in 33 (47%) press releases. From bivariate and multivariable analysis assessing the journal type, funding source, sample size, type of treatment (drug or other), results of the primary outcomes (all nonstatistically significant versus other), author of the press release, and the presence of “spin” in the abstract conclusion, the only factor associated, with “spin” in the press release was “spin” in the article abstract conclusions (relative risk [RR] 5.6, [95% CI 2.8–11.1], p<0.001). Findings of RCTs based on press releases were overestimated for 19 (27%) reports. News items were identified for 41 RCTs; 21 (51%) were reported with “spin,” mainly the same type of “spin” as those identified in the press release and article abstract conclusion. Findings of RCTs based on the news item was overestimated for ten (24%) reports.
Conclusion
“Spin” was identified in about half of press releases and media coverage. In multivariable analysis, the main factor associated with “spin” in press releases was the presence of “spin” in the article abstract conclusion.
Editors' Summary
Background
The mass media play an important role in disseminating the results of medical research. Every day, news items in newspapers and magazines and on the television, radio, and internet provide the general public with information about the latest clinical studies. Such news items are written by journalists and are often based on information in “press releases.” These short communications, which are posted on online databases such as EurekAlert! and sent directly to journalists, are prepared by researchers or more often by the drug companies, funding bodies, or institutions supporting the clinical research and are designed to attract favorable media attention to newly published research results. Press releases provide journalists with the information they need to develop and publish a news story, including a link to the peer-reviewed journal (a scholarly periodical containing articles that have been judged by independent experts) in which the research results appear.
Why Was This Study Done?
In an ideal world, journal articles, press releases, and news stories would all accurately reflect the results of health research. Unfortunately, the findings of randomized controlled trials (RCTs—studies that compare the outcomes of patients randomly assigned to receive alternative interventions), which are the best way to evaluate new treatments, are sometimes distorted in peer-reviewed journals by the use of “spin”—reporting that emphasizes the beneficial effects of the experimental (new) treatment. For example, a journal article may interpret nonstatistically significant differences as showing the equivalence of two treatments although such results actually indicate a lack of evidence for the superiority of either treatment. “Spin” can distort the transposition of research into clinical practice and, when reproduced in the mass media, it can give patients unrealistic expectations about new treatments. It is important, therefore, to know where “spin” occurs and to understand the effects of that “spin”. In this study, the researchers evaluate the presence of “spin” in press releases and associated media coverage and analyze whether the interpretation of RCT results based on press releases and associated news items could lead to the misinterpretation of RCT results.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 70 press releases indexed in EurekAlert! over a 4-month period that described two-arm, parallel-group RCTs. They used Lexis Nexis, a database of news reports from around the world, to identify associated news items for 41 of these press releases and then analyzed the press releases, news items, and abstracts of the scientific articles related to each press release for “spin”. Finally, they interpreted the results of the RCTs using each source of information independently. Nearly half the press releases and article abstract conclusions contained “spin” and, importantly, “spin” in the press releases was associated with “spin” in the article abstracts. The researchers overestimated the benefits of the experimental treatment from the press release as compared to the full-text peer-reviewed article for 27% of reports. Factors that were associated with this overestimation of treatment benefits included publication in a specialized journal and having “spin” in the press release. Of the news items related to press releases, half contained “spin”, usually of the same type as identified in the press release and article abstract. Finally, the researchers overestimated the benefit of the experimental treatment from the news item as compared to the full-text peer-reviewed article in 24% of cases.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that “spin” in press releases and news reports is related to the presence of “spin” in the abstract of peer-reviewed reports of RCTs and suggest that the interpretation of RCT results based solely on press releases or media coverage could distort the interpretation of research findings in a way that favors experimental treatments. This interpretation shift is probably related to the presence of “spin” in peer-reviewed article abstracts, press releases, and news items and may be partly responsible for a mismatch between the perceived and real beneficial effects of new treatments among the general public. Overall, these findings highlight the important role that journal reviewers and editors play in disseminating research findings. These individuals, the researchers conclude, have a responsibility to ensure that the conclusions reported in the abstracts of peer-reviewed articles are appropriate and do not over-interpret the results of clinical research.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001308.
The PLOS Hub for Clinical Trials, which collects PLOS journals relating to clinical trials, includes some other articles on “spin” in clinical trial reports
EurekAlert is an online free database for science press releases
The UK National Health Service Choices website includes Beyond the Headlines, a resource that provides an unbiased and evidence-based analysis of health stories that make the news for both the public and health professionals
The US-based organization HealthNewsReview, a project supported by the Foundation for Informed Medical Decision Making, also provides expert reviews of news stories
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001308
PMCID: PMC3439420  PMID: 22984354
16.  Outcomes in Registered, Ongoing Randomized Controlled Trials of Patient Education 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e42934.
Background
With the increasing prevalence of chronic noncommunicable diseases, patient education is becoming important to strengthen disease prevention and control. We aimed to systematically determine the extent to which registered, ongoing randomized controlled trials (RCTs) evaluated an educational intervention focus on patient-important outcomes (i.e., outcomes measuring patient health status and quality of life).
Methods
On May 6, 2009, we searched for all ongoing RCTs registered in the World Health Organization International Clinical Trials Registry platform. We used a standardized data extraction form to collect data and determined whether the outcomes assessed were 1) patient-important outcomes such as clinical events, functional status, pain, or quality of life or 2) surrogate outcomes, such as biological outcome, treatment adherence, or patient knowledge.
Principal Findings
We selected 268 of the 642 potentially eligible studies and assessed a random sample of 150. Patient-important outcomes represented 54% (178 of 333) of all primary outcomes and 46% (286 of 623) of all secondary outcomes. Overall, 69% of trials (104 of 150) used at least one patient-important outcome as a primary outcome and 66% (99 of 150) as a secondary outcome. Finally, for 31% of trials (46 of 150), primary outcomes were only surrogate outcomes. The results varied by medical area. In neuropsychiatric disorders, patient important outcomes represented 84% (51 of 61) of primary outcomes, as compared with 54% (32 of 59) in malignant neoplasm and 18% (4 of 22) in diabetes mellitus trials.
In addition, only 35% assessed the long-term impact of interventions (i.e., >6 months).
Conclusions
There is a need to improve the relevance of outcomes and to assess the long term impact of educational interventions in RCTs.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0042934
PMCID: PMC3420885  PMID: 22916183
17.  ASSIST Applicability Scoring of Surgical trials. An Investigator-reported aSsessment Tool 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e42258.
Context
We aimed to develop a new tool for assessing and depicting the applicability of the results of surgical randomized controlled trials (RCTs) from the trial investigators' perspective.
Methods
We identified all items related to applicability by a systematic methodological review, and then a sample of surgeons used these items in a web-based survey to evaluate the applicability of their own trial results. For each applicability item, participants had to indicate on a numerical scale that was simplified as a three-item scale: 1) items essential to consider, 2) items requiring attention, and 3) items inconsequential to the applicability of the results of their own RCT to clinical practice. For the final tool, we selected only items that were rated as being essential or requiring attention for at least 25% of the trials evaluated. We propose a specific process to construct the tool and to depict applicability in a graph. We identified all investigators of published and registered ongoing RCTs assessing surgery and invited them to participate in the web-based survey.
Results
148 surgeons assessed applicability for their own trial and participated in the process of item selection. The final tool contains 22 items (4 dedicated to patients, 5 to centers, 5 to surgeons and 8 to the intervention). We proposed a straightforward process of constructing the graphical tool: 1) a multidisciplinary team of investigators or other care providers participating in the trial could independently assess each item, 2) a consensus method could be used, and 3) the investigators could depict their assessment of the applicability of the trial results in 4 graphs related to patients, centers, surgeons and the intervention.
Conclusions
This investigator-reported assessment tool could help readers define under what conditions they could reasonably apply the results of a surgical RCT to their clinical practice.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0042258
PMCID: PMC3419723  PMID: 22916125
18.  Informing Evidence-Based Decision-Making for Patients with Comorbidity: Availability of Necessary Information in Clinical Trials for Chronic Diseases 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e41601.
Background
The population with multiple chronic conditions is growing. Prior studies indicate that patients with comorbidities are frequently excluded from trials but do not address whether information is available in trials to draw conclusions about treatment effects for these patients.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a literature survey of trials from 11 Cochrane Reviews for four chronic diseases (diabetes, heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and stroke). The Cochrane Reviews systematically identified and summarized trials on the effectiveness of diuretics, metformin, anticoagulants, longacting beta-agonists alone or in combination with inhaled corticosteroids, lipid lowering agents, exercise and diet. Eligible studies were reports of trials included in the Cochrane reviews and additional papers that described the methods of these trials. We assessed the exclusion and inclusion of people with comorbidities, the reporting of comorbidities, and whether comorbidities were considered as potential modifiers of treatment effects. Overall, the replicability of both the inclusion criteria (mean [standard deviation (SD)]: 6.0 (2.1), range (min-max): 1–9.5) and exclusion criteria(mean(SD): 5.3 (2.1), range: 1–9.5) was only moderate. Trials excluded patients with many common comorbidities. The proportion of exclusions for comorbidities ranged from 0–42 percent for heart failure, 0–55 percent for COPD, 0–44 percent for diabetes, and 0–39 percent for stroke. Seventy of the 161 trials (43.5%) described the prevalence of any comorbidity among participants with the index disease. The reporting of comorbidities in trials was very limited, in terms of reporting an operational definition and method of ascertainment for the presence of comorbidity and treatments for the comorbidity. It was even less common that the trials assessed whether comorbidities were potential modifiers of treatment effects.
Conclusions
Comorbidities receive little attention in chronic disease trials. Given the public health importance of people with multiple chronic conditions, trials should better report on comorbidities and assess the effect comorbidities have on treatment outcomes.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0041601
PMCID: PMC3411714  PMID: 22870234
19.  Inadequate description of educational interventions in ongoing randomized controlled trials 
Trials  2012;13:63.
Background
The registration of clinical trials has been promoted to prevent publication bias and increase research transparency. Despite general agreement about the minimum amount of information needed for trial registration, we lack clear guidance on descriptions of non-pharmacologic interventions in trial registries. We aimed to evaluate the quality of registry descriptions of non-pharmacologic interventions assessed in ongoing randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of patient education.
Methods
On 6 May 2009, we searched for all ongoing RCTs registered in the 10 trial registries accessible through the World Health Organization International Clinical Trials Registry Platform. We included trials evaluating an educational intervention (that is, designed to teach or train patients about their own health) and dedicated to participants, their family members or home caregivers. We used a standardized data extraction form to collect data related to the description of the experimental intervention, the centers, and the caregivers.
Results
We selected 268 of 642 potentially eligible studies and appraised a random sample of 150 records. All selected trials were registered in 4 registers, mainly ClinicalTrials.gov (61%). The median [interquartile range] target sample size was 205 [100 to 400] patients. The comparator was mainly usual care (47%) or active treatment (47%). A minority of records (17%, 95% CI 11 to 23%) reported an overall adequate description of the intervention (that is, description that reported the content, mode of delivery, number, frequency, duration of sessions and overall duration of the intervention). Further, for most reports (59%), important information about the content of the intervention was missing. The description of the mode of delivery of the intervention was reported for 52% of studies, the number of sessions for 74%, the frequency of sessions for 58%, the duration of each session for 45% and the overall duration for 63%. Information about the caregivers was missing for 70% of trials. Most trials (73%) took place in the United States or United Kingdom, 64% involved only one centre, and participating centers were mainly tertiary-care, academic or university hospitals (51%).
Conclusions
Educational interventions assessed in ongoing RCTs of educational interventions are poorly described in trial registries. The lack of adequate description raises doubts about the ability of trial registration to help patients and researchers know about the treatment evaluated in trials of education.
doi:10.1186/1745-6215-13-63
PMCID: PMC3503701  PMID: 22607344
20.  Telephone Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Subthreshold Depression and Presenteeism in Workplace: A Randomized Controlled Trial 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e35330.
Background
Subthreshold depression is highly prevalent in the general population and causes great loss to society especially in the form of reduced productivity while at work (presenteeism). We developed a highly-structured manualized eight-session cognitive-behavioral program with a focus on subthreshold depression in the workplace and to be administered via telephone by trained psychotherapists (tCBT).
Methods
We conducted a parallel-group, non-blinded randomized controlled trial of tCBT in addition to the pre-existing Employee Assistance Program (EAP) versus EAP alone among workers with subthreshold depression at a large manufacturing company in Japan. The primary outcomes were depression severity as measured with Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II) and presenteeism as measured with World Health Organization Health and Work Productivity Questionnaire (HPQ). In the course of the trial the follow-up period was shortened in order to increase acceptability of the study.
Results
The planned sample size was 108 per arm but the trial was stopped early due to low accrual. Altogether 118 subjects were randomized to tCBT+EAP (n = 58) and to EAP alone (n = 60). The BDI-II scores fell from the mean of 17.3 at baseline to 11.0 in the intervention group and to 15.7 in the control group after 4 months (p<0.001, Effect size = 0.69, 95%CI: 0.32 to 1.05). However, there was no statistically significant decrease in absolute and relative presenteeism (p = 0.44, ES = 0.15, −0.21 to 0.52, and p = 0.50, ES = 0.02, −0.34 to 0.39, respectively).
Conclusion
Remote CBT, including tCBT, may provide easy access to quality-assured effective psychotherapy for people in the work force who present with subthreshold depression. Further studies are needed to evaluate the effectiveness of this approach in longer terms. The study was funded by Sekisui Chemicals Co. Ltd.
Trial Registration
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00885014
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0035330
PMCID: PMC3330821  PMID: 22532849
21.  Underrepresentation of Elderly People in Randomised Controlled Trials. The Example of Trials of 4 Widely Prescribed Drugs 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e33559.
Background
We aimed to determine the representation of elderly people in published reports of randomized controlled trials (RCTs). We focused on trials of 4 medications—pioglitazone, rosuvastatin, risedronate, and valsartan—frequently used by elderly patients with chronic medical conditions.
Methods and Findings
We selected all reports of RCTs indexed in PubMed from 1966 to April 2008 evaluating one of the 4 medications of interest. Estimates of the community-based “on-treatment” population were from a national health insurance database (SNIIR-AM) covering approximately 86% of the population in France. From this database, we evaluated data claims from January 2006 to December 2007 for 1,958,716 patients who received one of the medications of interest for more than 6 months. Of the 155 RCT reports selected, only 3 studies were exclusively of elderly patients (2 assessing valsartan; 1 risedronate). In only 4 of 37 reports (10.8%) for pioglitazone, 4 of 22 (18.2%) for risedronate, 3 of 29 (10.3%) for rosuvastatine and 9 of 67 (13.4%) for valsartan, the proportion of patients aged 65 or older was within or above that treated in clinical practice. In 62.2% of the reports for pioglitazone, 40.9% for risedronate, 37.9% for rosuvastatine, and 70.2% for valsartan, the proportion of patients aged 65 or older was lower than half that in the treated population. The representation of elderly people did not differ by publication date or sample size.
Conclusions
Elderly patients are poorly represented in RCTs of drugs they are likely to receive.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0033559
PMCID: PMC3316581  PMID: 22479411
22.  Does Consideration and Assessment of Effects on Health Equity Affect the Conclusions of Systematic Reviews? A Methodology Study 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e31360.
Introduction
Tackling health inequities both within and between countries remains high on the agenda of international organizations including the World Health Organization and local, regional and national governments. Systematic reviews can be a useful tool to assess effects on equity in health status because they include studies conducted in a variety of settings and populations. This study aims to describe the extent to which the impacts of health interventions on equity in health status are considered in systematic reviews, describe methods used, and assess the implications of their equity related findings for policy, practice and research.
Methods
We conducted a methodology study of equity assessment in systematic reviews. Two independent reviewers extracted information on the reporting and analysis of impacts of health interventions on equity in health status in a group of 300 systematic reviews collected from all systematic reviews indexed in one month of MEDLINE, using a pre-tested data collection form. Any differences in data extraction were resolved by discussion.
Results
Of the 300 systematic reviews, 224 assessed the effectiveness of interventions on health outcomes. Of these 224 reviews, 29 systematic reviews assessed effects on equity in health status using subgroup analysis or targeted analyses of vulnerable populations. Of these, seven conducted subgroup analyses related to health equity which were reported in insufficient detail to judge their credibility. Of these 29 reviews, 18 described implications for policy and practice based on assessment of effects on health equity.
Conclusion
The quality and completeness of reporting should be enhanced as a priority, because without this policymakers and practitioners will continue lack the evidence base they need to inform decision-making about health inequity. Furthermore, there is a need to develop methods to systematically consider impacts on equity in health status that is currently lacking in systematic reviews.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0031360
PMCID: PMC3302723  PMID: 22427804
23.  Public Availability of Published Research Data in High-Impact Journals 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(9):e24357.
Background
There is increasing interest to make primary data from published research publicly available. We aimed to assess the current status of making research data available in highly-cited journals across the scientific literature.
Methods and Results
We reviewed the first 10 original research papers of 2009 published in the 50 original research journals with the highest impact factor. For each journal we documented the policies related to public availability and sharing of data. Of the 50 journals, 44 (88%) had a statement in their instructions to authors related to public availability and sharing of data. However, there was wide variation in journal requirements, ranging from requiring the sharing of all primary data related to the research to just including a statement in the published manuscript that data can be available on request. Of the 500 assessed papers, 149 (30%) were not subject to any data availability policy. Of the remaining 351 papers that were covered by some data availability policy, 208 papers (59%) did not fully adhere to the data availability instructions of the journals they were published in, most commonly (73%) by not publicly depositing microarray data. The other 143 papers that adhered to the data availability instructions did so by publicly depositing only the specific data type as required, making a statement of willingness to share, or actually sharing all the primary data. Overall, only 47 papers (9%) deposited full primary raw data online. None of the 149 papers not subject to data availability policies made their full primary data publicly available.
Conclusion
A substantial proportion of original research papers published in high-impact journals are either not subject to any data availability policies, or do not adhere to the data availability instructions in their respective journals. This empiric evaluation highlights opportunities for improvement.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0024357
PMCID: PMC3168487  PMID: 21915316
24.  Patients' and Practitioners' Views of Knee Osteoarthritis and Its Management: A Qualitative Interview Study 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(5):e19634.
Purpose
To identify the views of patients and care providers regarding the management of knee osteoarthritis (OA) and to reveal potential obstacles to improving health care strategies.
Methods
We performed a qualitative study based on semi-structured interviews of a stratified sample of 81 patients (59 women) and 29 practitioners (8 women, 11 general practitioners [GPs], 6 rheumatologists, 4 orthopedic surgeons, and 8 [4 GPs] delivering alternative medicine).
Results
Two main domains of patient views were identified: one about the patient–physician relationship and the other about treatments. Patients feel that their complaints are not taken seriously. They also feel that practitioners act as technicians, paying more attention to the knee than to the individual, and they consider that not enough time is spent on information and counseling. They have negative perceptions of drugs and a feeling of medical uncertainty about OA, which leads to less compliance with treatment and a switch to alternative medicine. Patients believe that knee OA is an inevitable illness associated with age, that not much can be done to modify its evolution, that treatments are of little help, and that practitioners have not much to propose. They express unrealistic fears about the impact of knee OA on daily and social life. Practitioners' views differ from those of patients. Physicians emphasize the difficulty in elaborating treatment strategies and the need for a tool to help in treatment choice.
Conclusions
This qualitative study suggests several ways to improve the patient–practitioner relationship and the efficacy of treatment strategies, by increasing their acceptability and compliance. Providing adapted and formalized information to patients, adopting more global assessment and therapeutic approaches, and dealing more accurately with patients' paradoxal representation of drug therapy are main factors of improvement that should be addressed.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0019634
PMCID: PMC3088707  PMID: 21573185
25.  The Effect of Interpersonal Psychotherapy and other Psychodynamic Therapies versus ‘Treatment as Usual’ in Patients with Major Depressive Disorder 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(4):e19044.
Background
Major depressive disorder afflicts an estimated 17% of individuals during their lifetimes at tremendous suffering and costs. Interpersonal psychotherapy and other psychodynamic therapies may be effective interventions for major depressive disorder, but the effects have only had limited assessment in systematic reviews.
Methods/Principal Findings
Cochrane systematic review methodology with meta-analysis and trial sequential analysis of randomized trials comparing the effect of psychodynamic therapies versus ‘treatment as usual’ for major depressive disorder. To be included the participants had to be older than 17 years with a primary diagnosis of major depressive disorder. Altogether, we included six trials randomizing a total of 648 participants. Five trials assessed ‘interpersonal psychotherapy’ and only one trial assessed ‘psychodynamic psychotherapy’. All six trials had high risk of bias. Meta-analysis on all six trials showed that the psychodynamic interventions significantly reduced depressive symptoms on the 17-item Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (mean difference −3.12 (95% confidence interval −4.39 to −1.86;P<0.00001), no heterogeneity) compared with ‘treatment as usual’. Trial sequential analysis confirmed this result.
Discussion
We did not find convincing evidence supporting or refuting the effect of interpersonal psychotherapy or psychodynamic therapy compared with ‘treatment as usual’ for patients with major depressive disorder. The potential beneficial effect seems small and effects on major outcomes are unknown. Randomized trials with low risk of systematic errors and low risk of random errors are needed.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0019044
PMCID: PMC3083428  PMID: 21556370

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