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Med Decis Making. 2000 Oct-Dec;20(4):440-50.

Electronic trial banks: a complementary method for reporting randomized trials.

Author information

  • 1VA Health Care System, Palo Alto, California, USA. sim@medicine.ucsf.edu



Randomized clinical trial (RCT) results are often difficult to find, interpret, or apply to clinical care. The authors propose that RCTs be reported into electronic knowledge bases-trial banks-in addition to being reported in text. What information should these trial-bank reports contain?


Using the competency decomposition method, the authors specified the ideal trial-bank contents as the information necessary and sufficient for completing the task of systematic reviewing.


They decomposed the systematic reviewing task into four top-level tasks and 62 subtasks. 162 types of trial information were necessary and sufficient for completing these subtasks. These items relate to a trial's design, execution, administration, and results.


Trial-bank publishing of these 162 items would capture into computer-understandable form all the trial information needed for critically appraising and synthesizing trial results. Decision-support systems that access shared, up-to-date trial banks could help clinicians manage, synthesize, and apply RCT evidence more effectively.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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