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NIHR tops chart for clinical trial transparency

Published: 02 August 2022

Research published in JAMA Network Open today shows NIHR topping the chart of European medical research funders in implementing best practices for clinical trial transparency as set out by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The paper presents an analysis of clinical trial transparency processes across 21 of the largest medical research funders in Europe, using best practice benchmarks published in the WHO Joint Statement on public disclosure of results from clinical trials.

The WHO Joint Statement was drafted in 2017 and brought together 23 medical research funders, with more joining since, in agreement on measures to improve clinical trial transparency. It states that the pre-registration and timely public dissemination of results from clinical trials is vital from a scientific and ethical perspective. These steps also play a key role in reducing research waste, increasing the value and efficiency of funding and reducing reporting bias, which ultimately will lead to better decision-making.

Researchers analysed 21 of the signatories based in Europe and found NIHR to be the most compliant, implementing 10 out of the 11 best practice policies.

Progress in clinical trial transparency

Since signing the joint statement in 2017, NIHR has made a commitment to monitoring compliance of NIHR studies against these principles. This includes launching the NIHR Policy for Clinical Trials Registration and Disclosure of Results which was established on the following principles:

  • Minimising the burden on researchers, participants and NIHR
  • Ensuring the re-use of existing systems and data, where possible
  • Providing a fully transparent and accessible portfolio of research
  • Being mindful of changes to requirements over time, both historically and in the future

Although this paper highlights the great progress NIHR has made in adopting best practices, regular audits are in place to ensure that research is complying with these processes, such as the pre-registration of clinical trials on an appropriate registry. A new audit is currently underway to assess compliance of research with key outcomes publicly available within 12 months from primary study completion. The results of this audit will be available in the Autumn.

NIHR Chief Executive and Department of Health and Social Care Chief Scientific Advisor, Professor Lucy Chappell, said: “It is fantastic to see NIHR recognised for our work in clinical trial transparency.

"This is a culmination of work from across NIHR to develop and implement the NIHR policy on clinical trial registration and disclosure of results. This work has helped us as an organisation to improve transparency across our research portfolio, allowing us to more effectively manage our research funding and reduce research waste. Our commitment to transparency and open research is key in supporting us to achieve our mission to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research.”

You can find out more about our progress on clinical trial transparency in our 2019-20 audit of compliance with NIHR clinical trial registration requirements.

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