Clinical research needs to be more attuned to the needs of patients and clinicians

September 28, 2011

Sir Iain Chalmers, coordinator of The James Lind Initiative, will use his plenary lecture at the European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology meeting to highlight the need for the research community to be more effective in serving the information needs of patients and professionals. He will state there are currently large inefficiencies in the way health research is carried out, with the result that the needs of consumers of research results - patients and clinicians - are not being met effectively.

Over US$100 billion is put towards supporting worldwide every year, resulting in an estimated 1 million research publications1. However, Sir Iain's presentation will argue that there are currently inefficiencies in the research system which could be reduced. Recommendations for improving productivity include:

  • New research should only be supported if it has been demonstrated in systematic reviews of existing evidence that it will address important uncertainties. Only against that background can proposed new research be ethical and likely to be worthwhile.
  • New should address unanswered questions that are of relevance to and .
  • When new results are reported, the impact they have on the totality of evidence relevant to the question addressed should be made clear.
  • The scientific community needs to ensure that well conducted studies addressing important uncertainties are all published, regardless of the direction and strength of the results. Biased under-reporting of research is unacceptable, both on scientific and ethical grounds.
  • Research needs to be made more available to people working within the and greater efforts made to ensure that patients and clinicians have readier access to research findings relevant to the treatment and other choices they have to make.
Sir Iain Chalmers from The James Lind Initiative said: "The ultimate outcome of all should be to improve patient health and wellbeing. When carrying out new research, resources should be allocated as effectively as possible to projects that will reduce important uncertainties and offer the public good returns on its investments.

"Our work has shown that this is not the case currently and that there is still a large waste of resources in the way that health research is carried out and reported. There are a number of areas we have identified where this waste can be cut, including ensuring that patients and clinicians are consulted about their research priorities and that all findings of well conducted research are published, regardless of direction and strength of results. Although there are admirable exceptions, the research community as a whole needs to examine the way it functions and move towards making research more accessible and accountable to the end-users - patients, clinicians and the general public."

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