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1.  The DiaS trial: dialectical behavior therapy versus collaborative assessment and management of suicidality on self-harm in patients with a recent suicide attempt and borderline personality disorder traits - study protocol for a randomized controlled trial 
Trials  2014;15:194.
In Denmark 8,000 to 10,000 people will attempt suicide each year. The Centre of Excellence in Suicide Prevention in the Capital Region of Denmark is treating patients with suicidal behavior, and a recent survey has shown that 30% of the patients are suffering from borderline personality disorder. The majority of patients (70% to 75%) with borderline personality disorder have a history of deliberate self-harm and 10% have a lifetime risk to die by suicide. The DiaS trial is comparing dialectical behavior therapy with collaborative assessment and management of suicidality-informed supportive psychotherapy, for the risk of repetition of deliberate self-harm in patients with a recent suicide attempt and personality traits within the spectrum of borderline personality disorder. Both treatments have previously shown effects in this group of patients on suicide ideation and self-harm compared with treatment as usual.
The trial is designed as a single-center, two-armed, parallel-group observer-blinded randomized clinical superiority trial. We will recruit 160 participants with a recent suicide attempt and at least two traits of the borderline personality disorder from the Centre of Excellence in Suicide Prevention, Capital Region of Denmark. Randomization will be performed though a centralized and computer-generated approach that conceals the randomization sequence. The interventions that are offered are a modified version of a dialectical behavior therapy program lasting 16 weeks versus collaborative assessment and management of suicidality-informed supportive psychotherapy, where the duration treatment will vary in accordance with established methods up to 16 weeks. The primary outcome measure is the ratio of deliberate self-harming acts including suicide attempts measured at week 28. Other exploratory outcomes are included such as severity of symptoms, suicide intention and ideation, depression, hopelessness, self-esteem, impulsivity, anger, and duration of respective treatments.
Trial registration
Clinical NCT01512602.
PMCID: PMC4055911  PMID: 24885904
suicide prevention; deliberate self-harm; borderline personality disorder traits; BPD; dialectical behavior therapy; DBT; collaborative assessment and management of suicidality; CAMS
3.  Endoscopic versus open radial artery harvest and mammario-radial versus aorto-radial grafting in patients undergoing coronary artery bypass surgery: protocol for the 2 × 2 factorial designed randomised NEO trial 
Trials  2014;15:135.
Coronary artery bypass grafting using the radial artery has, since the 1990s, gone through a revival. Observational studies have indicated better long-term patency when using radial arteries. Therefore, radial artery might be preferred especially in younger patients where long time patency is important. During the last 10 years different endoscopic techniques to harvest the radial artery have evolved. Endoscopic radial artery harvest only requires a small incision near the wrist in contrast to open harvest, which requires an incision from the elbow to the wrist. However, it is unknown whether the endoscopic technique results in fewer complications or a graft patency comparable to open harvest. When the radial artery has been harvested, there are two ways to use the radial artery as a graft. One way is sewing it onto the aorta and another is sewing it onto the mammary artery. It is unknown which technique is the superior revascularisation technique.
The NEO Trial is a randomised clinical trial with a 2 × 2 factorial design. We plan to randomise 300 participants into four intervention groups: (1) mammario-radial endoscopic group; (2) aorto-radial endoscopic group; (3) mammario-radial open surgery group; and (4) aorto-radial open surgery group.
The hand function will be assessed by a questionnaire, a clinical examination, the change in cutaneous sensibility, and the measurement of both sensory and motor nerve conduction velocity at 3 months postoperatively. All the postoperative complications will be registered, and we will evaluate muscular function, scar appearance, vascular supply to the hand, and the graft patency including the patency of the central radial artery anastomosis. A patency evaluation by multi-slice computer tomography will be done at one year postoperatively.
We expect the nerve conduction studies and the standardised neurological examinations to be able to discriminate differences in hand function comparing endoscopic to open harvest of the radial artery. The trial also aims to show if there is any patency difference between mammario-radial compared to aorto-radial revascularisation techniques but this objective is exploratory.
Trial registration identifier: NCT01848886.
Danish Ethics committee number: H-3-2012-116.
Danish Data Protection Agency: 2007-58-0015/jr.n:30–0838.
PMCID: PMC4033613  PMID: 24754891
Arterial revascularisation; Coronary artery bypass; Endoscopic radial artery harvest; Nerve conduction study; Neurological deficit; Open radial artery harvest; Patency; Quantitative sensory testing; Radial artery harvest
4.  The chronic autoimmune thyroiditis quality of life selenium trial (CATALYST): study protocol for a randomized controlled trial 
Trials  2014;15:115.
Patients with chronic autoimmune thyroiditis have impaired health-related quality of life. The thyroid gland has a high selenium concentration, and specific selenoprotein enzyme families are crucial to immune function, and catalyze thyroid hormone metabolism and redox processes in thyroid cells. Previous randomized controlled trials have found that selenium supplementation decreases thyroid-disease-specific antibody levels. We hypothesize that selenium might be beneficial in the treatment of chronic autoimmune thyroiditis.
The CATALYST trial is an investigator-initiated randomized, blinded, multicentre clinical trial of selenium supplementation versus placebo in patients with chronic autoimmune thyroiditis. Inclusion criteria: age ≥18 years; serum thyroid peroxidase antibody level ≥100 IU/ml within the previous 12 months; treatment with levothyroxine and written informed consent. Exclusion criteria: previous diagnosis of toxic nodular goitre, Graves’ hyperthyroidism, postpartum thyroiditis, Graves’ orbitopathy; previous antithyroid drug treatment, radioiodine therapy or thyroid surgery; immune-modulatory or other medication affecting thyroid function; pregnancy, planned pregnancy or breastfeeding; allergy towards any intervention or placebo component; intake of selenium supplementation >55 μg/day; inability to read or understand Danish or lack of informed consent. The trial will include 2 × 236 participants. The experimental intervention and control groups will receive 200 μg selenium-enriched yeast or matching placebo tablets daily for 12 months. The experimental supplement will be SelenoPrecise®. The primary outcome is thyroid-related quality of life assessed by the Thyroid Patient-Reported Outcome (ThyPRO) questionnaire. Secondary outcomes include serum thyroid peroxidase antibody concentration; serum triiodothyronine/thyroxine ratio; levothyroxine dosage; adverse reactions and serious adverse reactions and events.
In this pragmatic trial, participating patients follow their usual treatment at their usual hospitals. In order to collect high-quality data on the clinical course and quality of life, and to minimize missing data, an elaborate trial management system has been designed. 12 months intervention duration was selected in consideration of the primary outcome, thyroid-related quality of life.
Trial registration ID: NCT02013479.
PMCID: PMC3986429  PMID: 24716668
chronic autoimmune thyroiditis; hypothyroidism; quality of life; selenium supplementation; ThyPRO
5.  STRIDER: Sildenafil therapy in dismal prognosis early-onset intrauterine growth restriction – a protocol for a systematic review with individual participant data and aggregate data meta-analysis and trial sequential analysis 
Systematic Reviews  2014;3:23.
In pregnancies complicated by early-onset extreme fetal growth restriction, there is a high risk of preterm birth and an overall dismal fetal prognosis. Sildenafil has been suggested to improve this prognosis. The first aim of this review is to assess whether sildenafil benefits or harms these babies. The second aim is to analyse if these effects are modified in a clinically meaningful way by factors related to the women or the trial protocol.
The STRIDER (Sildenafil Therapy In Dismal prognosis Early-onset intrauterine growth Restriction) Individual Participant Data (IPD) Study Group will conduct a prospective IPD and aggregate data systematic review with meta-analysis and trial sequential analysis. The STRIDER IPD Study Group started trial planning and funding applications in 2012. Three trials will be launched in 2014, recruiting for three years. Further trials are planned to commence in 2015.
The primary outcome for babies is being alive at term gestation without evidence of serious adverse neonatal outcome. The latter is defined as severe central nervous system injury (severe intraventricular haemorrhage (grade 3 and 4) or cystic periventricular leukomalacia, demonstrated by ultrasound and/or magnetic resonance imaging) or other severe morbidity (bronchopulmonary dysplasia, retinopathy of prematurity requiring treatment, or necrotising enterocolitis requiring surgery). The secondary outcomes are improved fetal growth velocity assessed by ultrasound abdominal circumference measurements, gestational age and birth weight (centile) at delivery, and age-adequate performance on the two-year Bayley scales of infant and toddler development-III (composite cognitive score and composite motor score). Subgroup and sensitivity analyses in the IPD meta-analysis include assessment of the influence of several patient characteristics: an abnormal or normal serum level of placental growth factor, absent/reversed umbilical arterial end diastolic flow at commencement of treatment, and other patient characteristics available at baseline such as gestational age and estimated fetal weight. The secondary outcomes for mothers include co-incidence and severity of the maternal syndrome of pre-eclampsia, mortality, and other serious adverse events.
Trials are expected to start in 2013–2014 and end in 2016–2017. Data analyses of individual trials are expected to finish in 2019. Given the pre-planned and agreed IPD protocol, these results should be available in 2020.
PMCID: PMC3975177  PMID: 24618418
Adverse neonatal outcome; Fetal growth restriction; Individual participant data meta-analysis; Sildenafil
6.  The thresholds for statistical and clinical significance – a five-step procedure for evaluation of intervention effects in randomised clinical trials 
Thresholds for statistical significance are insufficiently demonstrated by 95% confidence intervals or P-values when assessing results from randomised clinical trials. First, a P-value only shows the probability of getting a result assuming that the null hypothesis is true and does not reflect the probability of getting a result assuming an alternative hypothesis to the null hypothesis is true. Second, a confidence interval or a P-value showing significance may be caused by multiplicity. Third, statistical significance does not necessarily result in clinical significance. Therefore, assessment of intervention effects in randomised clinical trials deserves more rigour in order to become more valid.
Several methodologies for assessing the statistical and clinical significance of intervention effects in randomised clinical trials were considered. Balancing simplicity and comprehensiveness, a simple five-step procedure was developed.
For a more valid assessment of results from a randomised clinical trial we propose the following five-steps: (1) report the confidence intervals and the exact P-values; (2) report Bayes factor for the primary outcome, being the ratio of the probability that a given trial result is compatible with a ‘null’ effect (corresponding to the P-value) divided by the probability that the trial result is compatible with the intervention effect hypothesised in the sample size calculation; (3) adjust the confidence intervals and the statistical significance threshold if the trial is stopped early or if interim analyses have been conducted; (4) adjust the confidence intervals and the P-values for multiplicity due to number of outcome comparisons; and (5) assess clinical significance of the trial results.
If the proposed five-step procedure is followed, this may increase the validity of assessments of intervention effects in randomised clinical trials.
PMCID: PMC4015863  PMID: 24588900
Randomised clinical trial; Threshold for significance; Bayes factor; Confidence interval; P-value
7.  Is Sustained Virological Response a Marker of Treatment Efficacy in Patients with Chronic Hepatitis C Viral Infection with No Response or Relapse to Previous Antiviral Intervention? 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e83313.
Randomised clinical trials (RCTs) of antiviral interventions in patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection use sustained virological response (SVR) as the main outcome. There is sparse information on long-term mortality from RCTs.
We created a decision tree model based on a Cochrane systematic review on interferon retreatment for patients who did not respond to initial therapy or who relapsed following SVR. Extrapolating data to 20 years, we modelled the outcome from three scenarios: (1) observed medium-term (5 year) annual mortality rates continue to the long term (20 years); (2) long-term annual mortality in retreatment responders falls to that of the general population while retreatment non-responders continue at the medium-term mortality; (3) long-term annual mortality in retreatment non-responders is the same as control group non-responders (i.e., the increased treatment-related medium mortality “wears off”).
The mean differences in life expectancy over 20 years with interferon versus control in the first, second, and third scenarios were -0.34 years (95% confidence interval (CI) -0.71 to 0.03), -0.23 years (95% CI -0.69 to 0.24), and -0.01 (95% CI -0.3 to 0.27), respectively. The life expectancy was always lower in the interferon group than in the control group in scenario 1. In scenario 3, the interferon group had a longer life expectancy than the control group only when more than 7% in the interferon group achieved SVR.
SVR may be a good prognostic marker but does not seem to be a valid surrogate marker for assessing HCV treatment efficacy of interferon retreatment. The SVR threshold at which retreatment increases life expectancy may be different for different drugs depending upon the adverse event profile and treatment efficacy. This has to be determined for each drug by RCTs and appropriate modelling before SVR can be accepted as a surrogate marker.
PMCID: PMC3861485  PMID: 24349487
8.  A multi-centre phase IIa clinical study of predictive testing for preeclampsia: improved pregnancy outcomes via early detection (IMPROvED) 
5% of first time pregnancies are complicated by pre-eclampsia, the leading cause of maternal death in Europe. No clinically useful screening test exists; consequentially clinicians are unable to offer targeted surveillance or preventative strategies. IMPROvED Consortium members have pioneered a personalised medicine approach to identifying blood-borne biomarkers through recent technological advancements, involving mapping of the blood metabolome and proteome. The key objective is to develop a sensitive, specific, high-throughput and economically viable early pregnancy screening test for pre-eclampsia.
We report the design of a multicentre, phase IIa clinical study aiming to recruit 5000 low risk primiparous women to assess and refine innovative prototype tests based on emerging metabolomic and proteomic technologies. Participation involves maternal phlebotomy at 15 and 20 weeks’ gestation, with optional testing and biobanking at 11 and 34 weeks. Blood samples will be analysed using two innovative, proprietary prototype platforms; one metabolomic based and one proteomic based, both of which outperform current biomarker based screening tests at comparable gestations. Analytical and clinical data will be collated and analysed via the Copenhagen Trials Unit.
The IMPROvED study is expected to refine proteomic and metabolomic panels, combined with clinical parameters, and evaluate clinical applicability as an early pregnancy predictive test for pre-eclampsia. If ‘at risk’ patients can be identified, this will allow stratified care with personalised fetal and maternal surveillance, early diagnosis, timely intervention, and significant health economic savings. The IMPROvED biobank will be accessible to the European scientific community for high quality research into the cause and prevention of adverse pregnancy outcome.
Trial registration
Trial registration number NCT01891240
The IMPROvED project is funded by the seventh framework programme for Research and Technological development of the EU.
PMCID: PMC4029471  PMID: 24314209
Pre-eclampsia; Screening; Proteomics; Metabolomics; Preterm birth; Small for gestational age
9.  The CopenHeartSF trial—comprehensive sexual rehabilitation programme for male patients with implantable cardioverter defibrillator or ischaemic heart disease and impaired sexual function: protocol of a randomised clinical trial 
BMJ Open  2013;3(11):e003967.
Sexuality is an important part of people’s physical and mental health. Patients with heart disease often suffer from sexual dysfunction. Sexual dysfunction has a negative impact on quality of life and well-being in persons with heart disease, and sexual dysfunction is associated with anxiety and depression. Treatment and care possibilities seem to be lacking. Studies indicate that non-pharmacological interventions such as exercise training and psychoeducation possess the potential of reducing sexual dysfunction in patients with heart disease. The CopenHeartSF trial will investigate the effect of a comprehensive sexual rehabilitation programme versus usual care.
Methods and analysis
CopenHeartSF is an investigator-initiated randomised clinical superiority trial with blinded outcome assessment, with 1:1 central randomisation to sexual rehabilitation plus usual care versus usual care alone. Based on sample size calculations, 154 male patients with impaired sexual function due to implantable cardioverter defibrillator or ischaemic heart disease will be included from two university hospitals in Denmark. All patients receive usual care and patients allocated to the experimental intervention group follow a 12-week sexual rehabilitation programme consisting of an individualised exercise programme and psychoeducative consultation with a specially trained nurse. The primary outcome is sexual function measured by the International Index of Erectile Function. The secondary outcome measure is psychosocial adjustment to illness by the Psychosocial Adjustment to Illness Scale, sexual domain. A number of explorative analyses will also be conducted.
Ethics and dissemination
CopenHeartSF is approved by the regional ethics committee (no H-4-2012-168) and the Danish Data Protection Agency (no 2007-58-0015) and is performed in accordance with good clinical practice and the Declaration of Helsinki in its latest form.
Registration identifier: NCT01796353.
PMCID: PMC3845056  PMID: 24282249
10.  A randomised, multicentre clinical trial of specialised palliative care plus standard treatment versus standard treatment alone for cancer patients with palliative care needs: the Danish palliative care trial (DanPaCT) protocol 
BMC Palliative Care  2013;12:37.
Advanced cancer patients experience considerable symptoms, problems, and needs. Early referral of these patients to specialised palliative care (SPC) could improve their symptoms and problems.
The Danish Palliative Care Trial (DanPaCT) investigates whether patients with metastatic cancer, who report palliative needs in a screening, will benefit from being referred to ‘early SPC’.
DanPaCT is a clinical, multicentre, parallel-group superiority trial with balanced randomisation (1:1). The planned sample size is 300 patients. Patients are randomised to specialised palliative care (SPC) plus standard treatment versus standard treatment. Consecutive patients from oncology departments are screened for palliative needs with a questionnaire if they: a) have metastatic cancer; b) are 18 years or above; and c) have no prior contact with SPC. Patients with palliative needs (i.e. symptoms/problems exceeding a certain threshold) according to the questionnaire are eligible. The primary outcome is the change in the patients’ primary need (the most severe symptom/problem measured with the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Questionnaire (EORTC QLQ-C30)). Secondary outcomes are other symptoms/problems (EORTC QLQ-C30), satisfaction with health care (FAMCARE P-16), anxiety and depression (the Hospital Anxiety and Depression scale), survival, and health care costs.
Only few trials have investigated the effects of SPC. To our knowledge DanPaCT is the first trial to investigate screening based ‘early SPC’ for patients with a broad spectrum of cancer diagnosis.
Trial registration
Current controlled Trials NCT01348048
PMCID: PMC3874751  PMID: 24152880
Palliative care; End-of-life care; Advanced cancer; Randomised clinical trial; Quality of life; Needs assessment; Patient satisfaction; Cost-effectiveness; Study protocol
11.  Meta-Regression Analyses, Meta-Analyses, and Trial Sequential Analyses of the Effects of Supplementation with Beta-Carotene, Vitamin A, and Vitamin E Singly or in Different Combinations on All-Cause Mortality: Do We Have Evidence for Lack of Harm? 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e74558.
Background and Aims
Evidence shows that antioxidant supplements may increase mortality. Our aims were to assess whether different doses of beta-carotene, vitamin A, and vitamin E affect mortality in primary and secondary prevention randomized clinical trials with low risk of bias.
The present study is based on our 2012 Cochrane systematic review analyzing beneficial and harmful effects of antioxidant supplements in adults. Using random-effects meta-analyses, meta-regression analyses, and trial sequential analyses, we examined the association between beta-carotene, vitamin A, and vitamin E, and mortality according to their daily doses and doses below and above the recommended daily allowances (RDA).
We included 53 randomized trials with low risk of bias (241,883 participants, aged 18 to 103 years, 44.6% women) assessing beta-carotene, vitamin A, and vitamin E. Meta-regression analysis showed that the dose of vitamin A was significantly positively associated with all-cause mortality. Beta-carotene in a dose above 9.6 mg significantly increased mortality (relative risk (RR) 1.06, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.02 to 1.09, I2 = 13%). Vitamin A in a dose above the RDA (> 800 µg) did not significantly influence mortality (RR 1.08, 95% CI 0.98 to 1.19, I2 = 53%). Vitamin E in a dose above the RDA (> 15 mg) significantly increased mortality (RR 1.03, 95% CI 1.00 to 1.05, I2 = 0%). Doses below the RDAs did not affect mortality, but data were sparse.
Beta-carotene and vitamin E in doses higher than the RDA seem to significantly increase mortality, whereas we lack information on vitamin A. Dose of vitamin A was significantly associated with increased mortality in meta-regression. We lack information on doses below the RDA.
All essential compounds to stay healthy cannot be synthesized in our body. Therefore, these compounds must be taken through our diet or obtained in other ways [1]. Oxidative stress has been suggested to cause a variety of diseases [2]. Therefore, it is speculated that antioxidant supplements could have a potential role in preventing diseases and death. Despite the fact that a normal diet in high-income countries may provide sufficient amounts of antioxidants [3,4], more than one third of adults regularly take antioxidant supplements [5,6].
PMCID: PMC3765487  PMID: 24040282
12.  'In situ simulation' versus 'off site simulation' in obstetric emergencies and their effect on knowledge, safety attitudes, team performance, stress, and motivation: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial 
Trials  2013;14:220.
Unexpected obstetric emergencies threaten the safety of pregnant women. As emergencies are rare, they are difficult to learn. Therefore, simulation-based medical education (SBME) seems relevant. In non-systematic reviews on SBME, medical simulation has been suggested to be associated with improved learner outcomes. However, many questions on how SBME can be optimized remain unanswered. One unresolved issue is how 'in situ simulation' (ISS) versus 'off site simulation' (OSS) impact learning. ISS means simulation-based training in the actual patient care unit (in other words, the labor room and operating room). OSS means training in facilities away from the actual patient care unit, either at a simulation centre or in hospital rooms that have been set up for this purpose.
Methods and design
The objective of this randomized trial is to study the effect of ISS versus OSS on individual learning outcome, safety attitude, motivation, stress, and team performance amongst multi-professional obstetric-anesthesia teams.
The trial is a single-centre randomized superiority trial including 100 participants. The inclusion criteria were health-care professionals employed at the department of obstetrics or anesthesia at Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen, who were working on shifts and gave written informed consent. Exclusion criteria were managers with staff responsibilities, and staff who were actively taking part in preparation of the trial. The same obstetric multi-professional training was conducted in the two simulation settings. The experimental group was exposed to training in the ISS setting, and the control group in the OSS setting. The primary outcome is the individual score on a knowledge test. Exploratory outcomes are individual scores on a safety attitudes questionnaire, a stress inventory, salivary cortisol levels, an intrinsic motivation inventory, results from a questionnaire evaluating perceptions of the simulation and suggested changes needed in the organization, a team-based score on video-assessed team performance and on selected clinical performance.
The perspective is to provide new knowledge on contextual effects of different simulation settings.
Trial registration NCT01792674.
PMCID: PMC3716971  PMID: 23870501
Simulation; In situ simulation; Randomized trial; Obstetric emergencies; Multi-professional education; Stress
13.  Prospective registration, bias risk and outcome-reporting bias in randomised clinical trials of traditional Chinese medicine: an empirical methodological study 
BMJ Open  2013;3(7):e002968.
Clinical trials on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) should be registered in a publicly accessible international trial register and report on all outcomes. We systematically assessed and evaluated TCM trials in registries with their subsequent publications.
To describe the characteristics of TCM trials, estimate bias risk and outcome-reporting bias in clinical trials.
Data sources and study selection
Fifteen trial registries were searched from their inception to July 2012 to identify randomised trials on TCM including Chinese herbs, acupuncture and/or moxibustion, cupping, tuina, qigong, etc.
Data extraction
We extracted data including TCM specialty and treated disease/conditions from the registries and searched for subsequent publications in PubMed and Chinese databases. We compared information in the registries of completed trials with any publications focusing on study design, sample size, randomisation, bias risk including reporting bias from the register protocol.
1096 registered randomised trials were identified evaluating TCM, of which 505 were completed studies (46.1%). The most frequent conditions were pain (13.3%), musculoskeletal (11.7%), nervous (8.7%), digestive (7.1%), circulatory (6.5%), respiratory (6.3%), mental and behavioural disorders (6.2%) and cancer (6.0%). The trial register data identified parallel, phase II/III randomised trials with sample size estimations and blinding, but limited information about randomisation (sequence generation and allocation concealment). Comparing trial registration data of 115 completed trials (22.8%) with their subsequent 136 publications, inconsistencies were identified in one or more of the following: sample size (11%), outcome assessor blinding (37.5%), primary outcomes (29%) and safety (28%) reporting.
Increasing numbers of clinical trials investigating a variety of TCM interventions have been registered in international trial registries. The study design of registered TCM trials has improved in estimating sample size, use of blinding and placebos. However, selective outcome reporting is widespread and similar to conventional medicine and therefore study conclusions should be interpreted with caution.
PMCID: PMC3717464  PMID: 23864210
14.  Efficacy of New Generation Antidepressants: Differences Seem Illusory 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e63509.
Recently, Cipriani and colleagues examined the relative efficacy of 12 new-generation antidepressants on major depression using network meta-analytic methods. They found that some of these medications outperformed others in patient response to treatment. However, several methodological criticisms have been raised about network meta-analysis and Cipriani's analysis in particular which creates the concern that the stated superiority of some antidepressants relative to others may be unwarranted.
Materials and Methods
A Monte Carlo simulation was conducted which involved replicating Cipriani's network meta-analysis under the null hypothesis (i.e., no true differences between antidepressants). The following simulation strategy was implemented: (1) 1000 simulations were generated under the null hypothesis (i.e., under the assumption that there were no differences among the 12 antidepressants), (2) each of the 1000 simulations were network meta-analyzed, and (3) the total number of false positive results from the network meta-analyses were calculated.
Greater than 7 times out of 10, the network meta-analysis resulted in one or more comparisons that indicated the superiority of at least one antidepressant when no such true differences among them existed.
Based on our simulation study, the results indicated that under identical conditions to those of the 117 RCTs with 236 treatment arms contained in Cipriani et al.'s meta-analysis, one or more false claims about the relative efficacy of antidepressants will be made over 70% of the time. As others have shown as well, there is little evidence in these trials that any antidepressant is more effective than another. The tendency of network meta-analyses to generate false positive results should be considered when conducting multiple comparison analyses.
PMCID: PMC3670872  PMID: 23755107
15.  A phase II randomized clinical trial on cerebral near-infrared spectroscopy plus a treatment guideline versus treatment as usual for extremely preterm infants during the first three days of life (SafeBoosC): study protocol for a randomized controlled trial 
Trials  2013;14:120.
Every year in Europe about 25,000 infants are born extremely preterm. These infants have a 20% mortality rate, and 25% of survivors have severe long-term cerebral impairment. Preventative measures are key to reduce mortality and morbidity in an extremely preterm population. The primary objective of the SafeBoosC phase II trial is to examine if it is possible to stabilize the cerebral oxygenation of extremely preterm infants during the first 72 hours of life through the application of cerebral near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) oximetry and implementation of an clinical treatment guideline based on intervention thresholds of cerebral regional tissue saturation rStO2.
SafeBoosC is a randomized, blinded, multinational, phase II clinical trial. The inclusion criteria are: neonates born more than 12 weeks preterm; decision to conduct full life support; parental informed consent; and possibility to place the cerebral NIRS oximeter within 3 hours after birth. The infants will be randomized into one of two groups. Both groups will have a cerebral oximeter monitoring device placed within three hours of birth. In the experimental group, the cerebral oxygenation reading will supplement the standard treatment using a predefined treatment guideline. In the control group, the cerebral oxygenation reading will not be visible and the infant will be treated according to the local standards. The primary outcome is the multiplication of the duration and magnitude of rStO2 values outside the target ranges of 55% to 85%, that is, the ‘burden of hypoxia and hyperoxia’ expressed in ‘%hours’. To detect a 50% difference between the experimental and control group in %hours, 166 infants in total must be randomized. Secondary outcomes are mortality at term date, cerebral ultrasound score, and interburst intervals on an amplitude-integrated electroencephalogram at 64 hours of life and explorative outcomes include neurodevelopmental outcome at 2 years corrected age, magnetic resonance imaging at term, blood biomarkers at 6 and 64 hours after birth, and adverse events.
Cerebral oximetry guided interventions have the potential to improve neurodevelopmental outcome in extremely preterm infants. It is a logical first step to test if it is possible to reduce the burden of hypoxia and hyperoxia.
Trial registration, NCT01590316
PMCID: PMC3680969  PMID: 23782447
Randomized clinical trial; Preterm; Near infrared spectroscopy; Protocol
16.  Selenium supplementation for patients with Graves’ hyperthyroidism (the GRASS trial): study protocol for a randomized controlled trial 
Trials  2013;14:119.
Graves’ hyperthyroidism is an autoimmune disease causing hyperfunction of the thyroid gland. The concentration of selenium is high in the thyroid gland and two important groups of enzymes within the thyroid are selenoproteins, that is, they depend on selenium. Selenium may have beneficial effects on autoimmune hypothyroidism and on Graves' orbitopathy, but the effects of selenium on Graves' hyperthyroidism is unknown.
We hypothesize that adjuvant selenium may be beneficial in the treatment of Graves' hyperthyroidism. The objective is to investigate if selenium supplementation plus standard treatment with anti-thyroid drugs versus standard treatment with anti-thyroid drugs will lead to a decrease in anti-thyroid drug treatment failure (that is, failure to remain euthyroid, without further treatment, one year after cessation of anti-thyroid drug treatment), faster and longer lasting remission (that is, anti-thyroid drug treatment success), and improved quality of life in patients with Graves’ hyperthyroidism.
Methods and design
The trial is an investigator-initiated, randomised, blinded, multicentre clinical trial. Inclusion criteria are: age 18 years or older; diagnosis of active Graves' hyperthyroidism within the last two months; and informed consent. Exclusion criteria are major co-morbidity; previous radioactive iodine treatment; ongoing anti-thyroid drug treatment for more than two months; treatment with immunomodulatory drugs; known allergy towards the components in the selenium and placebo pills; pregnancy or breast-feeding; and intake of selenium supplementation above 70 μg per day. We plan to include 492 participants, randomised (1:1) to two tablets of 100 μg selenium once daily for the 24 to 30 months intervention period versus two identical placebo tablets once daily.
The primary outcome is the proportion of participants with anti-thyroid drug treatment failure (see above) at the end of the intervention period (24 to 30 months). Secondary outcomes are: thyroid-specific quality of life during the first year after randomisation; level of thyroid stimulating hormone-receptor antibodies at 18 months after randomisation and at the end of the intervention period (24 to 30 months); hyperthyroid symptoms during the first year after randomisation; eye symptoms during the first year after randomisation, and at the end of the intervention period (24 to 30 months); adverse reactions during the intervention period; and serious adverse events during the intervention period.
It was of great importance to the initiators of this trial, that the results would be directly applicable to daily clinical practice. Therefore, it was designed as a pragmatic trial: the patients follow their usual treatment at their usual hospitals. In order to still collect high quality data on the clinical course and quality of life, an elaborate trial management system was designed to keep track of patient input, need for trial personnel input and action, and to collect data from medical chart systems. Meticulous follow-up on missing responses to the QoL measurements has been incorporated into the system, to minimise missing quality of life data. Monitoring of adverse reactions and events is achieved by thorough instruction of the participants, surveillance of patient-reported outcomes, and integration with national databases regarding hospitalizations. A very long intervention period was necessary, since patients are not considered in remission until one year after stopping anti-thyroid drugs. Usually, patients are treated for 12 to 18 months with anti-thyroid drugs, yielding a total intervention period of 24 to 30 months.
Trial registration NCT01611896.
PMCID: PMC3748826  PMID: 23782950
Graves' disease; Selenium supplementation; Pragmatic trial; Quality of life; ThyPRO
17.  Effect of comprehensive cardiac rehabilitation after heart valve surgery (CopenHeartVR): study protocol for a randomised clinical trial 
Trials  2013;14:104.
Heart valve diseases are common with an estimated prevalence of 2.5% in the Western world. The number is rising due to an ageing population. Once symptomatic, heart valve diseases are potentially lethal, and heavily influence daily living and quality of life. Surgical treatment, either valve replacement or repair, remains the treatment of choice. However, post surgery, the transition to daily living may become a physical, mental and social challenge. We hypothesise that a comprehensive cardiac rehabilitation programme can improve physical capacity and self-assessed mental health and reduce hospitalisation and healthcare costs after heart valve surgery.
A randomised clinical trial, CopenHeartVR, aims to investigate whether cardiac rehabilitation in addition to usual care is superior to treatment as usual after heart valve surgery. The trial will randomly allocate 210 patients, 1:1 intervention to control group, using central randomisation, and blinded outcome assessment and statistical analyses. The intervention consists of 12 weeks of physical exercise, and a psycho-educational intervention comprising five consultations. Primary outcome is peak oxygen uptake (VO2 peak) measured by cardiopulmonary exercise testing with ventilatory gas analysis. Secondary outcome is self-assessed mental health measured by the standardised questionnaire Short Form 36. Also, long-term healthcare utilisation and mortality as well as biochemistry, echocardiography and cost-benefit will be assessed. A mixed-method design is used to evaluate qualitative and quantitative findings encompassing a survey-based study before the trial and a qualitative pre- and post-intervention study.
The study is approved by the local regional Research Ethics Committee (H-1-2011-157), and the Danish Data Protection Agency ( 2007-58-0015).
Trial registration (http://NCT01558765).
PMCID: PMC3748823  PMID: 23782510
Heart valve surgery; Rehabilitation; Physical exercise; Psycho-education
18.  Treatment Success in Cancer: Industry Compared to Publicly Sponsored Randomized Controlled Trials 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e58711.
To assess if commercially sponsored trials are associated with higher success rates than publicly-sponsored trials.
Study Design and Settings
We undertook a systematic review of all consecutive, published and unpublished phase III cancer randomized controlled trials (RCTs) conducted by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and the NCIC Clinical Trials Group (CTG). We included all phase III cancer RCTs assessing treatment superiority from 1980 to 2010. Three metrics were assessed to determine treatment successes: (1) the proportion of statistically significant trials favouring the experimental treatment, (2) the proportion of the trials in which new treatments were considered superior according to the investigators, and (3) quantitative synthesis of data for primary outcomes as defined in each trial.
GSK conducted 40 cancer RCTs accruing 19,889 patients and CTG conducted 77 trials enrolling 33,260 patients. 42% (99%CI 24 to 60) of the results were statistically significant favouring experimental treatments in GSK compared to 25% (99%CI 13 to 37) in the CTG cohort (RR = 1.68; p = 0.04). Investigators concluded that new treatments were superior to standard treatments in 80% of GSK compared to 44% of CTG trials (RR = 1.81; p<0.001). Meta-analysis of the primary outcome indicated larger effects in GSK trials (odds ratio = 0.61 [99%CI 0.47–0.78] compared to 0.86 [0.74–1.00]; p = 0.003). However, testing for the effect of treatment over time indicated that treatment success has become comparable in the last decade.
While overall industry sponsorship is associated with higher success rates than publicly-sponsored trials, the difference seems to have disappeared over time.
PMCID: PMC3605423  PMID: 23555593
19.  The effect of integrated cardiac rehabilitation versus treatment as usual for atrial fibrillation patients treated with ablation: the randomised CopenHeartRFA trial protocol 
BMJ Open  2013;3(2):e002377.
Atrial fibrillation affects almost 2% of the population in the Western world. To preserve sinus rhythm, ablation is undertaken in symptomatic patients. Observational studies show that patients with atrial fibrillation often report a low quality of life and are less prone to be physically active due to fear of triggering fibrillation. Small trials indicate that exercise training has a positive effect on exercise capacity and mental health, and both patients with recurrent atrial fibrillation and in sinus rhythm may benefit from rehabilitation in managing life after ablation. No randomised trials have been published on cardiac rehabilitation for atrial fibrillation patients treated with ablation that includes exercise and psychoeducational components.
To test the effects of an integrated cardiac rehabilitation programme versus treatment as usual for patients with atrial fibrillation treated with ablation.
Methods and analysis design
The trial is a multicentre parallel arm design with 1:1 randomisation to the intervention and control group with blinded outcome assessment. 210 patients treated for atrial fibrillation with radiofrequency ablation will be included. The intervention consists of a rehabilitation programme including four psychoeducative consultations with a specially trained nurse and 12 weeks of individualised exercise training, plus the standard medical follow-up. Patients in the control group will receive the standard medical follow-up. The primary outcome measure is exercise capacity measured by the VO2 peak. The secondary outcome measure is self-rated mental health measured by the Short Form 36 questionnaire. Postintervention, qualitative interviews will be conducted in 10% of the intervention group.
Ethics and dissemination
The protocol is approved by the regional research ethics committee (number H-1-2011-135), the Danish Data Protection Agency (reg. nr. 2007-58-0015) and follows the latest version of the Declaration of Helsinki. The results will be published in peer-reviewed journals and may possibly impact on rehabilitation guidelines.
Trial registration identifier: NCT01523145.
PMCID: PMC3586151  PMID: 23430599
Atrial Fibrillation ; QUALITATIVE RESEARCH
20.  The Nordic Aortic Valve Intervention (NOTION) trial comparing transcatheter versus surgical valve implantation: study protocol for a randomised controlled trial 
Trials  2013;14:11.
Degenerative aortic valve (AV) stenosis is the most prevalent heart valve disease in the western world. Surgical aortic valve replacement (SAVR) has until recently been the standard of treatment for patients with severe AV stenosis. Whether transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI) can be offered with improved safety and similar effectiveness in a population including low-risk patients has yet to be examined in a randomised setting.
This randomised clinical trial will evaluate the benefits and risks of TAVI using the transarterial CoreValve System (Medtronic Inc., Minneapolis, MN, USA) (intervention group) compared with SAVR (control group) in patients with severe degenerative AV stenosis. Randomisation ratio is 1:1, enrolling a total of 280 patients aged 70 years or older without significant coronary artery disease and with a low, moderate, or high surgical risk profile. Trial outcomes include a primary composite outcome of myocardial infarction, stroke, or all-cause mortality within the first year after intervention (expected rates 5% for TAVI, 15% for SAVR). Exploratory safety outcomes include procedure complications, valve re-intervention, and cardiovascular death, as well as cardiac, cerebral, pulmonary, renal, and vascular complications. Exploratory efficacy outcomes include New York Heart Association functional status, quality of life, and valve prosthesis and cardiac performance. Enrolment began in December 2009, and 269 patients have been enrolled up to December 2012.
The trial is designed to evaluate the performance of TAVI in comparison with SAVR. The trial results may influence the choice of treatment modality for patients with severe degenerative AV stenosis.
Trial registration NCT01057173
PMCID: PMC3551839  PMID: 23302232
Aortic valve stenosis; Aortic valve prosthesis; Transcatheter aortic valve implantation; Surgical aortic valve replacement; Randomised clinical trial design
21.  ‘Third wave’ cognitive therapy versus mentalization-based therapy for major depressive disorder. A protocol for a randomised clinical trial 
BMC Psychiatry  2012;12:232.
Most interventions for depression have shown small or no effects. ‘Third wave‘ cognitive therapy and mentalization-based therapy have both gained some ground as treatments of psychological problems. No randomised trial has compared the effects of these two interventions for patients with major depression.
Methods/ design
We plan a randomised, parallel group, assessor-blinded superiority clinical trial. During two years we will include 84 consecutive adult participants diagnosed with major depressive disorder. The participants will be randomised to either ‘third wave‘ cognitive therapy versus mentalization-based therapy. The primary outcome will be the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression at cessation of treatment at 18 weeks. Secondary outcomes will be the proportion of patients with remission, Symptom Checklist 90 Revised, Beck’s Depression Inventory, and The World Health Organisation-Five Well-being Index 1999.
Interventions for depression have until now shown relatively small effects. Our trial results will provide knowledge about the effects of two modern psychotherapeutic interventions.
Trial registration
ClinicalTrials: NCT01070134
PMCID: PMC3534354  PMID: 23253305
22.  A randomised clinical trial of comprehensive cardiac rehabilitation versus usual care for patients treated for infective endocarditis—the CopenHeartIE trial protocol 
BMJ Open  2012;2(6):e001929.
Infective endocarditis (IE) is among the most serious infectious diseases in the western world. Treatment requires lengthy hospitalisation, high-dosage antibiotic therapy and possible valve replacement surgery. Despite advances in treatment, the 1-year mortality remains at 20–40%. Studies indicate that patients experience persisting physical symptoms, diminished quality of life and difficulties returning to work up to a year postdischarge. No studies investigating the effects of rehabilitation have been published. We present the rationale and design of the CopenHeartIE trial, which investigates the effect of comprehensive cardiac rehabilitation versus usual care for patients treated for IE.
Methods and analysis
We will conduct a randomised clinical trial to investigate the effects of comprehensive cardiac rehabilitation versus usual care on the physical and psychosocial functioning of patients treated for IE. The trial is a multicentre, parallel design trial with 1 : 1 individual randomisation to either the intervention or control group. The intervention consists of five psychoeducational consultations provided by specialised nurses and a 12-week exercise training programme. The primary outcome is mental health (MH) measured by the standardised Short Form 36 (SF-36). The secondary outcome is peak oxygen uptake measured by the bicycle ergospirometry test. Furthermore, a number of exploratory analyses will be performed. Based on sample size calculation, 150 patients treated for left-sided (native or prosthetic valve) or cardiac device endocarditis will be included in the trial. A qualitative and a survey-based complementary study will be undertaken, to investigate postdischarge experiences of the patients. A qualitative postintervention study will explore rehabilitation participation experiences.
Ethics and dissemination
The study complies with the Declaration of Helsinki and was approved by the regional research ethics committee (no H-1-2011-129) and the Danish Data Protection Agency (no 2007-58-0015). Study findings will be disseminated widely through peer-reviewed publications and conference presentations.
Registration identifier: NCT01512615.
PMCID: PMC3533051  PMID: 23175738
Infective Endocarditis; RCT; Mixed Method
23.  DEMO-II Trial. Aerobic Exercise versus Stretching Exercise in Patients with Major Depression—A Randomised Clinical Trial 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e48316.
The effect of referring patients from a clinical setting to a pragmatic exercise intervention for depressive symptoms, cognitive function, and metabolic variables has yet to be determined.
Outpatients with major depression (DSM-IV) were allocated to supervised aerobic or stretching exercise groups during a three months period. The primary outcome was the Hamilton depression score (HAM-D17). Secondary outcomes were cognitive function, cardiovascular risk markers, and employment related outcomes.
56 participants were allocated to the aerobic exercise intervention versus 59 participants to the stretching exercise group. Post intervention the mean difference between groups was −0.78 points on the HAM-D17 (95% CI −3.2 to 1.6; P = .52). At follow-up, the participants in the aerobic exercise group had higher maximal oxygen uptake (mean difference 4.4 l/kg/min; 95% CI 1.7 to 7.0; P = .001) and visuospatial memory on Rey’s Complex Figure Test (mean difference 3.2 points; 95% CI 0.9 to 5.5; P = .007) and lower blood glucose levels (mean difference 0.2 mmol/l; 95% CI 0.0 to 0.5; P = .04) and waist circumference (mean difference 2.2 cm; 95% CI 0.3 to 4.1; P = .02) compared with the stretching exercise group.
The results of this trial does not support any antidepressant effect of referring patients with major depression to a three months aerobic exercise program. Due to lower recruitment than anticipated, the trial was terminated prior to reaching the pre-defined sample size of 212 participants; therefore the results should be interpreted in that context. However, the DEMO-II trial does suggest that an exercise program for patients with depression offer positive short-term effects on maximal oxygen uptake, visuospatial memory, fasting glucose levels, and waist circumference.
Trial Registration NCT00695552
PMCID: PMC3485141  PMID: 23118981
24.  Use of Fibrates and Cancer Risk: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of 17 Long-Term Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trials 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e45259.
Fibrates comprise a class of well-established antilipidemic agents that significantly reduce cardiovascular events. Given the concerns of cancer with fibrate therapy, we undertook a systematic review and meta-analysis to investigate the effects of fibrates on cancer outcomes.
We systematically searched Medline, Scopus, SCI Expanded, and the Cochrane Library for studies published up to 2012. We included randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that evaluated a fibrate therapy compared with placebo, had a minimum duration of two years, and reported data on the incidence of and/or deaths from cancer during the trial. Reviews of each study were performed and the relative data were abstracted. Pooled relative risk estimates (RR) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated using the inverse variance weighted approach. Subgroup, sensitivity and meta-regression analyses were also conducted.
Seventeen RCTs, involving 44,929 participants with an average follow-up of 5.2 years, contributed to the analysis. The degree of variability between trials was consistent with what would be expected to occur by chance alone. The quantitative synthesis of data retrieved from the RCTs was not indicative of a fibrate effect on cancer incidence (780 [fibrate] vs 814 [control]; RR = 1.02, 95% CI 0.92–1.12) or cancer death (385 [fibrate] vs 377 [control]; RR = 1.06, 95% CI: 0.92–1.22). When the analysis was restricted to major RCTs, the results did not substantially change. Similarly, we found no evidence of differential effects by length of follow-up or type of fibrate. Insignificant results were also obtained for the role of fibrates in cancers of the respiratory tract, breast, colon, gastrointestinal tract, prostate, genitourinary tract, or in melanoma.
Our findings demonstrate that fibrates have a neutral effect on cancer outcomes. However, it is important to continue monitoring their long-term safety profiles.
PMCID: PMC3446944  PMID: 23028888
25.  Evolution of Heterogeneity (I2) Estimates and Their 95% Confidence Intervals in Large Meta-Analyses 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e39471.
Assessment of heterogeneity is essential in systematic reviews and meta-analyses of clinical trials. The most commonly used heterogeneity measure, I2, provides an estimate of the proportion of variability in a meta-analysis that is explained by differences between the included trials rather than by sampling error. Recent studies have raised concerns about the reliability of I2 estimates, due to their dependence on the precision of included trials and time-dependent biases. Authors have also advocated use of 95% confidence intervals (CIs) to express the uncertainty associated with I2 estimates. However, no previous studies have explored how many trials and events are required to ensure stable and reliable I2 estimates, or how 95% CIs perform as evidence accumulates.
Methodology/Principal Findings
To assess the stability and reliability of I2 estimates and their 95% CIs, in relation to the cumulative number of trials and events in meta-analysis, we looked at 16 large Cochrane meta-analyses - each including a sufficient number of trials and events to reliably estimate I2 - and monitored the I2 estimates and their 95% CIs for each year of publication. In 10 of the 16 meta-analyses, the I2 estimates fluctuated more than 40% over time. The median number of events and trials required before the cumulative I2 estimates stayed within +/−20% of the final I2 estimate was 467 and 11. No major fluctuations were observed after 500 events and 14 trials. The 95% confidence intervals provided good coverage over time.
I2 estimates need to be interpreted with caution when the meta-analysis only includes a limited number of events or trials. Confidence intervals for I2 estimates provide good coverage as evidence accumulates, and are thus valuable for reflecting the uncertainty associated with estimating I2.
PMCID: PMC3405079  PMID: 22848355

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