DeMauro and her colleagues set out to rate 179 randomized controlled trials published in six journals. Their conclusions? Read on!
DeMauro told Reuters Health that "those results trickle down into patient care, dictating what drugs and devices doctors use to help ailing children" and added: "There is always the possibility that the authors did do something and then forgot to report it, but that's less likely."
The research team rated the trials using 11 criteria from the Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials (CONSORT) checklist something that Reuters pointed out to be widely used in the medical community. But less than a fourth of the trials they examined met all the criteria, and only half met nine of them. Why is this important?
Guidelines for specific medical treatments rely on scientific studies and trials. When no reliable results are available, and research published in reputable medical journals is not clear enough, it is hard to know what treatment strategy is correct. This is especially serious in newborn babies. Even more alarming was the fact that 21 of the trials didn't even state what the trial aimed to accomplish!
DeMauro said about this: "Without a primary outcome, everything else is superfluous. So when some authors are not even giving you a clear primary outcome, you have to question the whole study." Want to read more of our news posts? See: South Africa no more official promotion of infant formula. Hopefully, Dr DeMauro's project will lead to stricter standards in the medical community in the future, including the requirements to publish trials and studies in medical journals.
DeMauro called on medical journals to follow the mentioned CONSORT checklist, something that will result in higher quality. As she and her colleagues found, these guidelines are not being followed correctly, and that has been producing poor quality trials.