If you think that medical practice in 2016 is evidence-based, then think again. According to this very interesting (and sad) recent study from the BMJ, two thirds of clinical trials remain unpublished two years after study completion and one third never gets published at all! Why? One can only imagine, since this was not part of this study’s objectives. One should be very cautious, however, when stating “studies have shown…” and especially when that involves relatively new treatments or procedures (which, by definition, are most affected by a delay in the timely dissemination of new data).
I believe that years from now we will be looking back at this time with dismay, not only about how unscientific so many of our methods/practices are, but mainly (and even more so) about how much we were priding ourselves on the exact opposite.
The timely dissemination of the results of clinical trials is not a choice that researchers (or sponsors) have, but rather a scientific and moral obligation that they should strictly observe. Current practice, it seems, is still highly unscientific and unethical and it is Medicine’s moral obligation to try to rectify this. The fact that it is more scientific and ethical than it used to be brings indeed a little solace, but still, the sooner we realize the above limitations the better, because in the meantime real money is being wasted and real hearts are being broken… Ironically, we cannot be certain how much money is being wasted and how many hearts are being broken since we are missing most of the relevant data… Sad, indeed.
You can read the full article here
© Kostis Tsarpalis, February 2016