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Elife. 2018 Jun 5;7. pii: e34412. doi: 10.7554/eLife.34412.

Adequate statistical power in clinical trials is associated with the combination of a male first author and a female last author.

Author information

1
Biomedical MR Imaging and Spectroscopy Group, Center for Image Sciences, University Medical Center Utrecht/Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands.
2
Department of Child Neurology, Brain Center Rudolf Magnus, University Medical Center Utrecht/Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands.
3
Department of Philosophy, VU University, Amsterdam, Netherlands.
4
Department of Psychiatry, Brain Centre Rudolf Magnus, University Medical Center Utrecht/Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Abstract

Clinical trials have a vital role in ensuring the safety and efficacy of new treatments and interventions in medicine. A key characteristic of a clinical trial is its statistical power. Here we investigate whether the statistical power of a trial is related to the gender of first and last authors on the paper reporting the results of the trial. Based on an analysis of 31,873 clinical trials published between 1974 and 2017, we find that adequate statistical power was most often present in clinical trials with a male first author and a female last author (20.6%, 95% confidence interval 19.4-21.8%), and that this figure was significantly higher than the percentage for other gender combinations (12.5-13.5%; P<0.0001). The absolute number of female authors in clinical trials gradually increased over time, with the percentage of female last authors rising from 20.7% (1975-85) to 28.5% (after 2005). Our results demonstrate the importance of gender diversity in research collaborations and emphasize the need to increase the number of women in senior positions in medicine.

KEYWORDS:

Cochrane meta-analysis; clinical study; human; human biology; medicine; meta research; mixed sex collaborations; randomized controlled trial (RCT); statistical power

PMID:
29866256
PMCID:
PMC5988419
DOI:
10.7554/eLife.34412
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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