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Ann Intern Med. 2018 Sep 18;169(6):385-393. doi: 10.7326/M18-1517. Epub 2018 Aug 21.

Association Between Publication Characteristics and Treatment Effect Estimates: A Meta-epidemiologic Study.

Author information

1
INSERM U1153, Université Paris Descartes, Sorbonne Paris Cité, Hôpital Hôtel Dieu, Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris, Cochrane France, and Sorbonne Université, Institut Pierre Louis de Santé Publique, Hôpitaux Universitaires Pitié Salpêtrière - Charles Foix, Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris, Paris, France (A.D.).
2
INSERM U1153 and Cochrane France, Paris, France (I.A.).
3
INSERM U1153 and Hôpital Hôtel Dieu, Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris, Paris, France (C.R.).
4
Hôpital Hôtel Dieu, Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris and Cochrane France, Paris, France, and Institute for Evidence in Medicine (for Cochrane Germany Foundation), University of Freiburg Medical Center, Freiburg, Germany (J.M.).
5
INSERM U1153, Université Paris Descartes, Sorbonne Paris Cité, Hôpital Hôtel Dieu, Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris, and Cochrane France, Paris, France, and Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, New York, New York (P.R.).

Abstract

Background:

Evidence about the effect on meta-analysis results of including unpublished trials or those published in languages other than English is unclear or discordant.

Purpose:

To compare treatment effects between published and unpublished randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and between trials published in English and other languages using a meta-epidemiologic approach.

Data Sources:

Cochrane reviews published between March 2011 and January 2017 and trial references cited in the reviews.

Study Selection:

RCTs included in meta-analyses of 3 or more trials with a binary efficacy outcome.

Data Extraction:

Trial characteristics were extracted by original review authors. A single reviewer assessed publication status and language, with quality assurance by another investigator.

Data Synthesis:

Among 5659 RCTs included in 698 meta-analyses, 5303 (93.7%) were published in journal articles and 356 (6.3%) were unpublished. Of journal articles, 92.6% (4910 of 5303) were published in English and 7.4% (393 of 5303) in another language. Treatment effects were larger in published than unpublished trials (combined ratio of odds ratios [ROR] for 174 meta-analyses, 0.90 [95% CI, 0.82 to 0.98]; I2 = 19.3%; τ2 = 0.0492). Treatment effects were also larger for trials published in a language other than English than in English (combined ROR for 147 meta-analyses, 0.86 [CI, 0.78 to 0.95]; I2 = 0%; τ2 = 0.0000).

Limitation:

Reliance on the primary reference cited by review authors as the record of interest.

Conclusion:

In meta-analyses, treatment effects were larger in published than unpublished trials and, for published trials, in those published in a language other than English than in English.

Primary Funding Source:

Cochrane France.

PMID:
30140933
DOI:
10.7326/M18-1517

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