To investigate whether and when the correction is done in Systematic Reviews (SRs) and Clinical Practice Guidelines (CPGs) when their included Randomised Controlled Trials (RCTs) have been retracted.
A meta-epidemiological study.
The Retraction Watch Database.
Eligibility criteria for selecting studies SRs and CPGs citing the retracted RCTs on Web of Science.
The appearance of retracted and dodgy papers about clinical trials in systemic reviews and in the scientific body of knowledge is a serious and largely unrecognised peril to public safety. More needs to be done to ensure retracted papers do not appear in systemic reviews and if a paper is determined to have been retracted it should not be cited. The Retraction Watch database can be incredibly helpful in this regard. Institutions should have clear policies calling upon their researchers not to cite retracted papers and to monitor if a paper has been retracted during the write up of their own paper. We have included links to six related items.
We investigated how often the retracted RCTs were cited in SRs and CPGs. We also investigated whether and when such SRs and CPGs corrected themselves by visually inspecting their current web pages. We summarized the proportion of correction and the time from retraction to correction.
We identified 98 retracted RCTs as well as 360 articles (335 SRs and 25 CPGs) citing them. Among the 360 articles, 157 (44%) were published after the retraction, 203 (56%) were published before retraction. Among 77 articles published citing already retracted RCTs in their evidence synthesis without caution, none corrected themselves after publication. Of 203 articles published before retraction, 149 included RCTs that were later retracted in their evidence synthesis. Among them, one SR was retracted due to plagiarism. Only 5% of SRs (6/130) and 11% of CPGs (2/18) corrected their results.
A large number of SRs and CPGs included already retracted RCTs without caution and never corrected themselves. When SRs and CPGs had included RCTs which were later retracted, only a small minority corrected their evidence syntheses. The scientific community, including publishers and researchers, should make systematic and concerted efforts to remove the impact of retracted RCTs.
Kataoka, Y., Banno, M., Tsujimoto, Y., Ariie, T., Taito, S., Suzuki, T., Oide, S. &. Furukawa, T.A. (2021) The impact of retracted randomised controlled trials on systematic reviews and clinical practice guidelines: a meta-epidemiological study. medRxiv 2022.01.30.22270124; doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2022.01.30.22270124