A Randomized Study of How Physicians Interpret Research Funding Disclosures

Nejm.org: 9/20/12

The effects of clinical-trial funding on the interpretation of trial results are poorly understood. We examined how such support affects physicians’ reactions to trials with a high, medium, or low level of methodologic rigor.

We presented 503 board-certified internists with abstracts that we designed describing clinical trials of three hypothetical drugs. The trials had high, medium, or low methodologic rigor, and each report included one of three support disclosures: funding from a pharmaceutical company, NIH funding, or none. For both factors studied (rigor and funding), one of the three possible variations was randomly selected for inclusion in the abstracts. Follow-up questions assessed the physicians’ impressions of the trials’ rigor, their confidence in the results, and their willingness to prescribe the drugs. Read more