Scientific research is the most powerful tool we have to discover and improve the therapies we offer our patients. However, research only helps us if the studies are well-conducted and the results are available for other researchers and clinicians to evaluate. As doctors, as owners of veterinary patients, and as patients ourselves, we need to know how medical research studies are conducted, and we need access to all the data they produce so that we can make effective and informed decisions.
Unfortunately, sometimes medical researchers make good plans for their studies but fail to follow through with them. And all too often research results, especially negative results showing a new treatment doesn’t work or has risks, aren’t published at all. This reduces the value of the research done; it wastes money and resources and places patients at risk.
One way to improve the quality of research and to make sure all the results are available is through clinical trial registries. When the plan for a research study is published in advance, it is more likely to be followed, and any weaknesses can be identified. And when government agencies, funding sources, and journals require advance registration and full publication of results, medical trials are of better quality and more vital information is available to the research community, doctors, and patients.
All Trials is an initiative to encourage registration and publication of results in human medical research. This initiative is having dramatic success. There has been significant progress in bring the pharmaceutical industry and other commercial research companies on board, as well as convincing government regulators, scientific journals, and organizations funding research to support registration. This initiative will make medicine research better and more transparent and will ultimately benefit both doctors and patients.
In veterinary medicine, clinical trial registration is almost non-existent. There are no registries available for most studies, and no mechanism to encourage or require advance registration. The evidence is clear that there are significant deficiencies in the quality and reporting of veterinary clinical trials, and the extent of negative publication bias is largely unknown. A system for clinical trials registration in veterinary medicine is even more critical than in human medical research.
Vet All Trials is a consortium working towards developing an effective veterinary clinical trial registry. Please consider learning more about the work of All Trials and the Veterinary All Trials Initiative and getting involved. Help make veterinary medicine better, for veterinarians, animal owners, and most of all veterinary patients.
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