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Review of group-based cancer trials reveals flaws in studies' design and analysis
Date:3/25/2008

COLUMBUS, Ohio A new study reviewing 75 group-randomized cancer trials over a five-year stretch shows that fewer than half of those studies used appropriate statistical methods to analyze the results. The review suggests that some trials may have reported that interventions to prevent disease or reduce cancer risks were effective when in fact they might not have been.

More than a third of the trials contained statistical analyses that the reviewers considered inappropriate to assess the effects of an intervention being studied. And 88 percent of those studies reported statistically significant intervention effects that, because of analysis flaws, could be misleading to scientists and policymakers, the review authors say.

We cannot say any specific studies are wrong. We can say that the analysis used in many of the papers suggests that some of them probably were overstating the significance of their findings, said David Murray, lead author of the review study and professor and chair of epidemiology in the College of Public Health at Ohio State University.

If researchers use the wrong methods, and claim an approach was effective, other people will start using that approach. And if it really wasnt effective, then theyre wasting time, money and resources and going down a path that they shouldnt be going down.

Murray and colleagues call for investigators to collaborate with statisticians familiar with group-randomized study methods and for funding agencies and journal editors to ensure that such studies show evidence of proper design planning and data analysis.

The review appears online in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

In group-randomized trials, researchers randomly assign identifiable groups to specific conditions and observe outcomes for members of those groups to assess the effects of an intervention under study.

These trials are used to investigate interventions that operate at
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Contact: David Murray
dmurray@cph.osu.edu
614-293-2928
Ohio State University
Source:Eurekalert

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