Is funding source related to study reporting quality in obesity or nutrition randomized control trials in top-tier medical journals?
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BACKGROUND: Faithful and complete reporting of trial results is essential to the validity of the scientific literature. An earlier systematic study of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) found that industry-funded RCTs appeared to be reported with greater quality than non-industry-funded RCTs. The aim of this study was to examine the association between systematic differences in reporting quality and funding status (that is, industry funding vs non-industry funding) among recent obesity and nutrition RCTs published in top-tier medical journals. METHODS: Thirty-eight obesity or nutrition intervention RCT articles were selected from high-profile, general medical journals (The Lancet, Annals of Internal Medicine, JAMA and the British Medical Journal) published between 2000 and 2007. Paired papers were selected from the same journal published in the same year, one with and the other without industry funding. The following identifying information was redacted: journal, title, authors, funding source and institution(s). Then three raters independently and blindly rated each paper according to the Chalmers method, and total reporting quality scores were calculated. FINDINGS: The inter-rater reliability (Cronbach's alpha) was 0.82 (95% confidence interval = 0.80-0.84). The total mean (M) and s.d. of Chalmers Index quality score (out of a possible 100) for industry-funded studies were M = 84.5, s.d. = 7.04 and for non-industry-funded studies they were M = 79.4, s.d. = 13.00. A Wilcoxon matched-pairs signed-ranks test indicates no significant rank difference in the distributions of total quality scores between funding sources, Z = -0.966, P = 0.334 (two tailed). INTERPRETATION: Recently published RCTs on nutrition and obesity that appear in top-tier journals seem to be equivalent in quality of reporting, regardless of funding source. This may be a result of recent reporting of quality statements and efforts of journal editors to raise all papers to a common standard.
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