Reporting of Results Often Biased in Psychiatry, Psychology Trials

Fifty-six percent of trials had spin in abstract; no correlation seen for industry funding with spin

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TUESDAY, Aug. 6, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- More than half of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) with statistically nonsignificant findings for the primary end points published in psychiatry and psychology journals have spin in the abstract, according to a review published online Aug. 5 in BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine.

Samuel Jellison, from the Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences in Tulsa, and colleagues examined the frequency and manifestation of spin, defined as use of specific reporting strategies to highlight the benefits of an experimental treatment, despite a statistically nonsignificant difference for the primary outcome or to distract from statistically nonsignificant findings. In addition, the correlation between industry funding and spin was assessed.

One hundred sixteen RCTs with statistically nonsignificant findings for the primary end points were included in the analysis; 12 studies (10 percent) reported industry funding. The researchers identified spin in 56 percent of the trials; spin was noted in 2, 21, and 49.1 percent of titles, abstract results sections, and abstract conclusion sections, respectively. Fifteen percent of RCTs had evidence of spin simultaneously identified in both the results and conclusion sections. There was no correlation seen for industry funding with increased odds of spin in the abstract (unadjusted odds ratio, 1.0; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.3 to 3.2).

"Further research is needed to establish the effects of spin on clinical decision-making and the funding of future studies," the authors write. "Authors, journal editors, and peer-reviewers should continue to be vigilant for spin to reduce the risk of biased reporting of trial results."

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