Cancer randomized trials showed that dissemination bias is still a problem to be solved

Gerard Urrútia, Mónica Ballesteros, Benjamin Djulbegovic, Ignasi Gich, Marta Roqué, Xavier Bonfill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


© 2016 Elsevier Inc. Objective The objective of the present study was to determine the publication rate of cancer randomized controlled trial (RCTs) and to analyze the determinants of the publication, as well as to estimate the possible existence of a location and time lag bias. We also described the bibliometric characteristics of the publications. Study design and Setting We conducted an observational study that identified publications resulting from RCTs involving cancer-related drug products. These studies were authorized and registered by the Spanish Agency of Medicines and Medical Devices between 1999 and 2003. Results We identified 168 publications of 303 RCTs, resulting in a publication rate of 55.4% after a mean follow-up of 12 years. The only factor associated to the likelihood of nonpublication was the study setting favoring only national RCTs (odds ratio 2.7; 95% confidence interval 1.5–4.8). Type of sponsor did not seem to be associated, although the largest volume of nonpublished trials is international, industry-sponsored. Positive results seemed to be associated to a publication in a higher impact factor journal and a shorter time-to-publication. Conclusions About half of the cancer RCTs during the target period have not been published. The national setting is a factor associated to nonpublication, whereas the direction of results determines its dissemination (impact factor and timely publication).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)84-90
JournalJournal of Clinical Epidemiology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2016


  • Cancer
  • Dissemination bias
  • Location bias
  • Publication bias
  • Publication rate
  • Randomized controlled trial


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