Inadequate methods are often used in medical research, but the prevalence is not known. Yordanov et al. (1) estimated the avoidable waste of research related to inadequate methods in clinical trials included in Cochrane reviews between April 2012 and March 2013.
The authors examined a random sample of 200 trials with at least one methodological domain at high risk of bias. Of these 142 were confirmed as high risk of bias, and among these 25 methodological problems were identified. Adjustments were possible in 136 trials (96%). In 71 trials (50%) easy adjustment could have been applied at no or minor costs. This would have made 17 trials (12%) change to low risk for all domains. The estimated avoidable waste was thus 12% (95% CI 36% – 49%).
The authors conclude that an important part of wasted research is related to inadequate methods, and that this could partly be avoided with simple and inexpensive adjustments.
1. Yordanov Y, Dechartres A, Porcher R, Boutron I, Altman G, Ravaud P. Avoidable waste of research related to inadequate methods in clinical trials. BMJ 2015; 350:h809.