Prescribing Advice for GPs

An NHS Prescribing Advisers' Blog

Publication Bias

Studies that are published are commonly positive about the study drug with very few showing a negative outcome. This is because of Publication Bias.

Publication Bias occurs when only certain information, namely positive trial results, is published in journals.

This is an age old tactic as many scientists, upon getting a poor result, blame the experiment (or study) and set off to conduct the study again until they get the expected answer. However, in a well constructed and properly randomised and blinded study this should not be the case and the result perhaps should be made available.

For example, the results of the Serevent Multicentre Asthma Research Trial (SMART) have not been published despite the fact that the study was started in 1996. Action by the Food and Drugs Administration has brought about labelling changes in the United States following safety concerns raised by the study.

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