Researchers wanted to determine whether giving general health advice to patients with serious mental illness improves their lives. People with serious mental illness die up to 20 years sooner than the rest of the population. One reason the researchers suggest is that their physical health is ignored while their mental health is being treated.
The researchers did a review and found seven trials with a total of 1113 people with serious mental illness. But they weren’t able to make strong conclusions because the studies weren’t done well and not all of the results were reported. The researchers said:
Strict adherence to the CONSORT statement (Moher 2001) would have provided us with more useable data. We were unable to use data from some studies because raw scores were not presented. Instead, outcomes were presented as inexact P values without means and standard deviations. Randomisation techniques were not always made clear and blinding was untested – although, of course, difficult to achieve for this type of study. Nevertheless, pioneering researchers have shown that this type of work is possible. We hope that future trialists will sign up for ensuring that all data are publicly available (ALLTRIALS).
Sarah Knowles repeats this call in her blog on The Mental Elf:
I applaud the authors for their plea (on page 30 of the review) for researchers to sign up to the AllTrials campaign to encourage better reporting and greater transparency. The campaign calls for all trials to report all methods and results, so that we can actually make use of the data produced, which is given to us, remember, by patients themselves who have agreed to take part. Those patients deserve better. The patients paying up to 20 years of life deserve better too.