Adequacy of information on funding and financial conflicts of interest in clinical trial publications and how to obtain missing information: methodological study
2Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine Odense (CEBMO) and Cochrane Denmark, Department of Clinical Research, University of Southern Denmark; Open Patient data Explorative Network (OPEN), Odense University Hospital, Denmark
Background: Knowledge about funding and authors’ conflicts of interest is important when critically appraising trials, for example in the context of a systematic review. While studies have found that funding and conflicts of interest information is often reported in trial publications, little is known about whether the reported information is adequate and if missing information can be retrieved from other information sources.
Objective: To assess the adequacy of information on funding and financial conflicts of interest in contemporary randomised trials and to explore how missing information can be retrieved.
Methods: Methodological study of 200 randomly selected randomised drug and device trials indexed in MEDLINE in May 2022. Two authors independently extracted data and assessed adequacy of information on funding and authors’ financial conflicts of interest (i.e., adequate, partly adequate, inadequate, or no information). The domains that we included in our assessment of adequacy of information were name of funders, types of support, name of organisations resulting in conflicts, relevance of conflicts, and involvement of trial funders and authors. For trials where information was not adequate, we attempted to retrieve missing information by searching multiple sources (e.g., by searching websites, trial registries, and public disclosure databases). We noted the sources used to successfully retrieve information, the time taken to retrieve information, and the number of trials for which we were unable to retrieve information. Preliminary results (as of February 2023): In the 200 included trials information on funding was adequate in 54 (27%) trials, partly adequate in 113 (57%) trials, inadequate in 15 (8%) trials, and 18 (9%) trials had no information. Information on authors’ financial conflicts of interest was adequate in 129 (65%) trials, partly adequate in 63 (32%) trials, inadequate in 3 (2%), and 5 (3%) trials had no information. Our findings on retrieving missing information will be presented at the Colloquium.
Conclusions: Most contemporary trial publications contain information on funding and authors’ financial conflicts of interest. However, information on funding is only adequate in around a fourth of trials and for authors’ financial conflicts of interest in around two-thirds of trials.