Call to boost standard of comparative research

Vigorous standards should be drawn up to improve research that compares the relative benefits of different treatments, a group of medical journal editors has warned.

Editors from nine journals including The Cochrane Library and PLoS Medicine said comparative effectiveness research had a ‘self-evident' benefit to healthcare by improving decision-making.

In an editorial published in PLoS Medicine, the authors outlined the increasing resources being committed to the research by the US and UK, and said journals needed to step up to ensure such studies were useful and accurate.

They said: ‘The challenge will be to realise the full potential of such research to improve health.'

The editors outlined an 11-point plan to improve the standards for comparative research. This included recommendations for a ‘frank' discussion of a study's limitations by study authors, to make all comparative effectiveness studies free to access and to use a study population representative of clinical practice.

They also called for medical journals to use ‘rigorous' approaches to assessing clinical trials for limiting factors such as missing data or unmeasured bias.

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