A systematic review of the impact of professional medical writing support on the quality, ethics and timeliness of clinical trial reporting has been published in Research Integrity and Peer Review.
Professional medical writers improve the quality and speed of clinical trial reporting, concludes a systematic review by researchers at Oxford PharmaGenesis and Ipsen that was recently published in Research Integrity and Peer Review.
The systematic review analysed eight studies that included 849 articles written with professional medical writing support and 2073 articles written without professional medical writing support. The results showed that professional medical writing support is associated with increased compliance with Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials (CONSORT) guidelines and with reporting of fewer non-prespecified study outcomes. An improvement in the quality of written English used in articles and a higher mean impact factor of the journals publishing these articles were also associated with professional medical writing support.
Professional medical writing support was also found to be associated with a reduced time from clinical trial completion to primary publication. However, results were mixed for one stage of manuscript development, from submission to manuscript acceptance, with one study suggesting that professional medical writing support increased time to acceptance but another study showing no effect.
“Our research shows that professional medical writers have a positive role in the dissemination of data from clinical trials, improving both the quality and the timeliness of reporting,” commented Dr Obaro Evuarherhe, Principal Medical Writer at Oxford PharmaGenesis and lead author of the article. He added: “Timely and transparent reporting of clinical trial results is important because it helps to eliminate duplicative effort and reduce waste in research funding. This is an ethical imperative as it enables researchers to develop more up-to-date hypotheses, and allows clinicians and patients to judge the benefits and risks of different therapies.”
“The pharmaceutical industry is leading the way in clinical trial transparency, thanks in part to the support of professional medical writers,” said Dr William Gattrell, Global Medical Publications and Communications Manager at Ipsen and co-author of the article. Oxford PharmaGenesis Chief Executive Officer, and co-author of the article, Dr Chris Winchester said: “The pharmaceutical industry has made great strides to address concerns about a perceived lack of transparency in the disclosure of clinical trial results. These findings inspire confidence in the transparency of manuscripts reporting data from clinical trials written with professional medical writing support.”
Evuarherhe O, Gattrell W, White R, Winchester CC. Professional medical writing support and the quality, ethics and timeliness of clinical trial reporting: a systematic review. Res Integr Peer Rev 2019; doi:10.1186/s41073-019-0073-7.