Recovered trials

It’s never too late to publish a forgotten or abandoned clinical trial.

That’s why we’re sharing these stories of researchers who published trials that were at risk of being lost forever. These researchers ensured that the results of thousands of patients’ contributions in those trials are now available. Yet trials involving hundreds of thousands more patients remain unreported and unused. By highlighting how some researchers were able to share their results, we are showing others how they can make their trials count.

Do you know of other examples of researchers who rescued the results of old trials? Email us at

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Researchers discuss challenges in reporting trial results

In a new study in the journal Trials, 59 researchers were interviewed about their experiences running clinical trials and getting their results published. Many of the researchers talked about the challenges they faced in getting results published: for example, negative or unclear results, a lack of time or resources or rejection by journals. About half […]

28th January 2015|

How an abandoned heart drug trial was published 13 years later

John Hampton tells the story of how he got a clinical trial published after 13 years. In 1980, he led a trial that investigated the heart drug lorcainide. More of the people in the trial who were given lorcainide died than people in the trial taking the placebo. Because it wasn’t published and doctors didn’t […]

9th January 2015|

Recovered trials: Two trials on children’s head lice treatments

Ian Burgess told us about two trials on head lice treatments that had been kept hidden for 14 and 20 years. These trials involved 546 people (mostly children) in Bangladesh and the UK. Dr Burgess’ group managed to publish both of the trials this year in open access journals.

I have been wanting to publish the […]

14th October 2014|

Recovered trials: First trial published under RIAT initiative

In May 2014 Tom Treasure and his colleagues were able to publish the results of a trial completed 20 years ago involving 1447 bowel cancer patients. It was the first trial to be published under the RIAT (restoring invisible and abandoned trials) initiative announced last year.

Few people lived more than 5 years after being diagnosed […]

26th September 2014|

Recovered trials: Using unpublished data in a meta-analysis

In 2001, the Medical Research Council in the UK launched a randomised trial of treatments for children with persistent ear infections (also known as ‘glue ear’) called TARGET (Trial of Alternative Regimens in Glue Ear Treatment). They followed up with 376 children over 2 years to determine the effects of surgical treatments. But although interim […]

25th September 2014|

Recovered trials: A thirty-year study on a rare blood disorder

The findings of a thirty-year long clinical trial involving more than 400 people were nearly lost forever until Sue Richards and Julie Burrett took a unique avenue to make the results public. In 1974, the Medical Research Council (MRC) in the UK funded a trial for people with polycythaemia – a condition where people have […]

24th September 2014|

Recovered trials: Publishing an unreported Zimbabwean trial

In 1984, Iain Chalmers (a perinatal epidemiologist) and Klim McPherson (a medical statistician/epidemiologist) and their families went to Zimbabwe for a mixture of work and holiday. Conversations with Ian Brown, their host and the professor of obstetrics in Harare, revealed that, some years earlier, there had been a controlled trial to assess the effects of routine hospitalization for bed rest […]

23rd September 2014|

Recovered trials: Publishing a forgotten academic trial

Simon Wessely writes on The BMJ Blogs his experience of finally publishing the results of a trial 17 years after completion. It serves as a good example of how trials can remain unpublished for so many years and what academics can do to get their abandoned trials published.

In 1995, Wessely’s team attempted to replicate a trial to determine the effect counselling had on people admitted to hospital who have problems […]

22nd September 2014|