From publication bias to lost in information

December 11, 2020

The availability of clinical trial records has increased markedly in recent years. For instance, several documents from numerous sources are often available for a single clinical trial - sometimes with overlapping, but often incomplete information.

Identifying and processing this information involves a great deal of resources and challenges. Using an example of information retrieval for a health technology assessment report, this is shown in the current issue of BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine by two researchers from the German Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG): Beate Wieseler from the Drug Assessment Department and Natalie McGauran from the Communications Unit.

In their article "From publication bias to lost in information: Why we need a central public portal for clinical trial data", they call for the establishment of a central public portal for clinical trial records in order to simplify and standardize the extremely time-consuming search for these records. The primary goal is the complete and timely availability of so-called "clinical study reports", i.e., of those records that comprehensively describe clinical trials and their results. The establishment of such a portal would also support a further aim of the growing data transparency movement, namely, to improve patient care.

The main target group of the portal would be researchers conducting evidence syntheses as a basis for informed decision-making in health care, such as the development of guidelines or health policy directives.
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Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care

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