Prevalence, Characteristics, and Publication of Discontinued Randomized Trials

JAMA: 3/12/14

Importance  The discontinuation of randomized clinical trials (RCTs) raises ethical concerns and often wastes scarce research resources. The epidemiology of discontinued RCTs, however, remains unclear.

Objectives  To determine the prevalence, characteristics, and publication history of discontinued RCTs and to investigate factors associated with RCT discontinuation due to poor recruitment and with nonpublication.

Design and Setting  Retrospective cohort of RCTs based on archived protocols approved by 6 research ethics committees in Switzerland, Germany, and Canada between 2000 and 2003. We recorded trial characteristics and planned recruitment from included protocols. Last follow-up of RCTs was April 27, 2013.

Main Outcomes and Measures  Completion status, reported reasons for discontinuation, and publication status of RCTs as determined by correspondence with the research ethics committees, literature searches, and investigator surveys. Read More