Clinical trial

Study names NIHR as best in Europe for clinical trial transparency

The latest research has shown that the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) are leading the way in European medical research funders in implementing best practices for clinical trial transparency.

The paper, published in JAMA Network Open, presents an in-depth analysis of clinical trial transparency processes in 21 of the biggest medical research subsidisers in Europe, basing their results on the best practice benchmarks set out in the World Health Organisation’s Joint Statement on public disclosure of results from clinical trials.

The statement was published in 2017, bringing together 23 medical research funders in agreement on the best measures to improve clinical trial transparency.

It states that the pre-registration and timely public circulation of results from clinical trials is crucial from a scientific and ethical perspective – adhering to these guidelines will play a key part in cutting down research waste, improving the value and efficiency of funding, and reducing reporting bias, which will ultimately lead to better decision-making.

Research analysis of the 21 signatories based in Europe indicated that NIHR was the most “compliant”, with them implementing 10 out of the 11 best practice policies.

NIHR Chief Executive and Department of Health and Social Care Chief Scientific Advisor, Professor Lucy Chappell, said: “It is fantastic to see NIHR recognised for our work in clinical trial transparency.

"This is a culmination of work from across NIHR to develop and implement the NIHR policy on clinical trial registration and disclosure of results. This work has helped us as an organisation to improve transparency across our research portfolio, allowing us to more effectively manage our research funding and reduce research waste.

“Our commitment to transparency and open research is key in supporting us to achieve our mission to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research.”

Since 2017, NIHR have pledged to constantly monitor the compliance of NIHR study papers against the aforementioned principles. This includes the launch of the NIHR policy on clinical trial registration and disclosure of results, which was drafted based on:

  • Minimising the burden on researchers, participants and NIHR
  • Ensuring the re-use of existing systems and data, where possible
  • Providing a fully transparent and accessible portfolio of research
  • Being mindful of changes to requirements over time, both historically and in the future

Despite the paper highlighting the great leaps NIHR have made in adopting best practices and reinforces their position as a global leader in medical research funding, the organisation is not resting on their laurels and will continue to conduct regular audits to ensure their research is aligned with best practice processes, such as the pre-registration of clinical trials and making sure results are published in a timely manner.

A new audit is already underway doing just this, with the key outcomes to go public within the next 12 months.

More information on the progress NIHR has made in clinical trial transparency is available here.

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