This is a guest post by Ella Flemyng and Daniel Shanahan of BioMed Central, which is a supporter of the AllTrials campaign.
Clinical trials are one of our most valuable types of research for identifying cause-and-effect in healthcare interventions. However, while ‘positive’ results—those that support carefully-constructed hypotheses—often get the most attention, non-confirmatory or so-called ‘negative’ results have an integral role to play in guiding future research and practice. Indeed, even if an experiment supports a hypothesis, there is always the possibility that it may be rejected by future experiments, or may be unrepresentative of other research in the field.
Publication of all clinical trial results, regardless of outcome or significance of findings, is not only an ethical responsibility but also enables the efficacy of interventions to be validated, while preventing undue risk to patients and waste of resources.
Based on this idea that all results are valuable and should be published, Journal of Negative Results in BioMedicine was launched in 2002 as one of the first platforms to actively push for the publication and discussion of null, non-confirmatory findings in biomedical sciences, from the laboratory bench to clinical trials. Earlier this month, Journal of Negative Results in Biomedicine published a special article collection, ‘Overcoming Publication Bias in Clinical Trials’, which brings together negative results from clinical trials that have been published in the journal.
This collection includes a trial that investigated the efficacy of vilanterol, a novel long-acting drug from GSK for patients with persistent asthma. The study found improvements in patients in all treatment groups, but no statistical differences between the patients taking vilanterol, placebo and salmeterol, the current treatment.
Another study in the collection is a secondary analysis of a clinical trial that explored whether an exercise therapy program would improve the walk of patients with degenerative hip arthritis. The study analysed participants’ gaits following a 12-week supervised exercise therapy program and revealed the program resulted in no measurable changes in their walk.
With this article collection Journal of Negative Results in Biomedicine celebrates those authors who support completing the published record and calls for other researchers to submit their null and non-confirmatory results to the journal.
For the full collection, please visit: http://www.jnrbm.com/series/ClinicalTrials