Failure to report the results of clinical trials threatens the public’s trust in research and the integrity of the medical literature, and should be considered academic misconduct at the individual and institutional levels. According to the ethical principles for research outlined in the Declaration of Helsinki, researchers “have a duty to make publicly available the results of their research on human subjects and are accountable for the completeness and accuracy of their reports” (1). When participants volunteer to take part in clinical trials, and expose themselves to interventions with unknown safety and efficacy profiles, they have a tacit assumption, based on trust, that the evidence generated will inform clinical science (2). Health care providers and medical societies, who are responsible for evaluating and synthesizing evidence and filling the gap between research and practice, need for investigators to fully report their results in a timely manner. The utility of the diligent search for truth in the medical literature depends on its completeness. However, when research findings are not consistently disseminated, the literature provides a skewed view of the science, which may bias reviews of the evidence.
During the past 2 decades, efforts have been increasing to promote the reporting of clinical trial results. After the creation of ClinicalTrials.gov, a public registration database, the United States moved to establish consequences of not reporting clinical trial results. In particular, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act (FDAAA) of 2007 created legal requirements for certain intervention studies of FDA-regulated…
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