From Protocols to Publications: A Study in Selective Reporting of Outcomes in Randomized Trials in Oncology.


Journal Article (Review)

PURPOSE: The decision by journals to append protocols to published reports of randomized trials was a landmark event in clinical trial reporting. However, limited information is available on how this initiative effected transparency and selective reporting of clinical trial data. METHODS: We analyzed 74 oncology-based randomized trials published in Journal of Clinical Oncology, the New England Journal of Medicine, and The Lancet in 2012. To ascertain integrity of reporting, we compared published reports with their respective appended protocols with regard to primary end points, nonprimary end points, unplanned end points, and unplanned analyses. RESULTS: A total of 86 primary end points were reported in 74 randomized trials; nine trials had greater than one primary end point. Nine trials (12.2%) had some discrepancy between their planned and published primary end points. A total of 579 nonprimary end points (median, seven per trial) were planned, of which 373 (64.4%; median, five per trial) were reported. A significant positive correlation was found between the number of planned and nonreported nonprimary end points (Spearman r = 0.66; P < .001). Twenty-eight studies (37.8%) reported a total of 65 unplanned end points; 52 (80.0%) of which were not identified as unplanned. Thirty-one (41.9%) and 19 (25.7%) of 74 trials reported a total of 52 unplanned analyses involving primary end points and 33 unplanned analyses involving nonprimary end points, respectively. Studies reported positive unplanned end points and unplanned analyses more frequently than negative outcomes in abstracts (unplanned end points odds ratio, 6.8; P = .002; unplanned analyses odd ratio, 8.4; P = .007). CONCLUSION: Despite public and reviewer access to protocols, selective outcome reporting persists and is a major concern in the reporting of randomized clinical trials. To foster credible evidence-based medicine, additional initiatives are needed to minimize selective reporting.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Raghav, KPS; Mahajan, S; Yao, JC; Hobbs, BP; Berry, DA; Pentz, RD; Tam, A; Hong, WK; Ellis, LM; Abbruzzese, J; Overman, MJ

Published Date

  • November 1, 2015

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 33 / 31

Start / End Page

  • 3583 - 3590

PubMed ID

  • 26304898

Pubmed Central ID

  • 26304898

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1527-7755

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1200/JCO.2015.62.4148


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States