Format

Send to

Choose Destination
Minerva Anestesiol. 2019 Feb;85(2):194-200. doi: 10.23736/S0375-9393.18.13070-7. Epub 2018 Oct 30.

Why do multicenter randomized controlled trials not confirm the positive findings of single center randomized controlled trials in acute care?

Landoni G1,2, Pieri M3, Young PJ4,5, Bellomo R6,7,8,9,10.

Author information

1
Department of Anesthesia and Intensive Care, IRCCS San Raffaele Scientific Institute, Milan, Italy - landoni.giovanni@hsr.it.
2
Vita-Salute San Raffaele University, Milan, Italy - landoni.giovanni@hsr.it.
3
Department of Anesthesia and Intensive Care, IRCCS San Raffaele Scientific Institute, Milan, Italy.
4
Medical Research Institute of New Zealand, Wellington, New Zealand.
5
Intensive Care Unit, Wellington Hospital, Wellington, New Zealand.
6
Department of Intensive Care, Austin Hospital, Melbourne, Australia.
7
Department of Intensive Care, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Melbourne, Australia.
8
Australian and New Zealand Intensive Care Research Centre, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia.
9
School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Melbourne, Australia.
10
School of Medicine, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia.

Abstract

It is a common observation that many multicenter randomized controlled trials (mRCT) performed in critically ill patients do not achieve the positive findings often seen in single center studies (sRCT). This has, of course, relevant consequences for clinical practice, as mRCTs have higher scientific validity compared to sRCTs. The aim of this manuscript was to review and discuss the several potential causes of this phenomenon and to relate them to the future of mRCTs in critical care medicine. Overall, this seems to recall the old mythologic story of Achilles and the tortoise: although mRCTs (i.e. Achilles) are much more powerful, indeed, they always arrive later in time compared to the sRCTs (i.e. the tortoise) from which they were powered. However, sRCTs are more prone to several bias compared to mRCTs, such as local effect bias, selection and performance bias, detection and reporting bias, analysis and attrition bias, concomitant therapy bias, low fragility index and publication bias. In this sense, it is high time the critical care community should see the positive findings of sRTCs with a very high level of scientific caution, unless they are confirmed by mRCTs. MRCTs represent the final step of the process of evidence-based medicine and in the end (however slowly and painfully) such evidence catches up with sRCT and truly helps changes practice worldwide.

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Minerva Medica
Loading ...
Support Center