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About SickKids

April 11, 2007

Researchers find paediatric clinical trials published in general medical journals less frequently

Clinical researchers at SickKids have found that there is a dramatic lack of peer-reviewed publications on paediatric clinical trials. This research is published in the February issue of the Journal of Clinical Epidemiology.

General medical journals are an important location to find published important clinical trials. They are widely read, widely cited, and influential. Over the past 20 years the number of publications on clinical trials published each year in high-impact general medical journals involving adult subjects has doubled. However, there has been no change in the annual number of trials that have been published involving children.

“In an analysis of a sample of one year of publications, we found that paediatric trials were cited less frequently than adult studies and that multi-centre paediatric trials involved fewer centres than adult studies,” says Dr. Eyal Cohen, staff physician in Paediatric Medicine, project investigator in the Research Institute and assistant professor of Paediatrics at the University of Toronto.

Cohen and his colleagues from the Paediatric Outcomes Research Team (PORT) observed that so much of what is standard practice in clinical paediatrics is not based on any strong evidence from clinical trials, despite almost a generation of thinking that clinical trials are the best way to determine whether a particular intervention makes a difference in outcomes for a health problem. The team then started looking at general medical journals. Team member Dr. Patricia Parkin, Paediatric Medicine, had previously shown that paediatric clinical practice guidelines rely heavily on research published in these journals.

“The guidelines for paediatric clinical practice rely heavily on research published in these journals.It is important that evidence-based paediatric discoveries found through clinical trials be shared via a medium that many medical practitioners will read, cite and use,” says Cohen.

Cohen and this team are currently doing a study to determine if the same publication trends occur in paediatric and subspecialty journals. Other authors involved in this study were Elizabeth Uleryk and Mona Jasuja from SickKids.