Characterisation of trials published in medical journals to determine whether there are specific characteristics of trials that are designed primarily for the purpose of marketing and, if identified, what the prevalence and distribution of such trials is 2011
There is increasing anecdotal evidence of publications describing trials that appear to be for marketing purposes rather than addressing a genuine clinical need. The publication of such trials has the potential to distort the medical literature. However, there has been no systematic attempt to characterise such trials. We will sample trial publications in the medical literature and attempt to define the characteristics of trials that appear to be primarily marketing-driven. If we can define these trials, we will then investigate their prevalence and assess where published.
All trials are marketing exercises to a degree; our purpose is to characterise features of trials that are primarily driven by marketing, rather than addressing a genuine clinical need. Such trials may thus threaten the integrity of the medical literature and require readers to be very cautious of the findings. Of course, some trials are both valid scientifically and marketing – and a well designed, well executed study may still need to be interpreted with extreme caution.
This is a collaborative project with the following researchers and editors: Sara Schroter and Fiona Godlee (BMJ), Ginny Barbour (PLoS Medicine), Richard Lehman, Druin Birch, Joe Ross, Carl Heneghan, David Moher and Doug Altman.