10 Sep Medical Research Citation Rate May Lead To Treatment Bias
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Mintu Turakhia, MD MAS, FHRS FACC FAHA
Assistant Professor of Medicine and (by courtesy) of Health Research & Policy
Stanford University School of Medicine
Director of Cardiac Electrophysiology
Core Investigator, Center for Innovation to Implementation
VA Palo Alto Healthcare System
Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study
Dr. Turakhia: We found that the reported success rate of a study correlated with the number of times the study was cited in the literature, even after adjustment for a wide range of factors.
Medical Research: Were any of the findings unexpected
Dr. Turakhia: I was not entirely surprised with the findings but this is the first time such a formal analysis has been done with cardiovascular therapies.
Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report
Dr. Turakhia: The study does not change clinical practice. Rather, what it implies is that, to readers of the literature, radiofrequency catheter ablation of atrial fibrillation could be perceived to be more effective than the data supports. Moreover, this type of bias may extend to a wide ranging of other therapies that have had highly varied published success rates, including renal denervation, left ventricular mechanical support, and left atrial appendage occlusion.
Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Dr. Turakhia: We should more formally evaluate whether citation bias is occurring with other treatments and try to understand the downstream effect of this bias in quantitative and qualitative terms. Journals could also require that meta-analyses or systematic reviews be preferentially reported when describing success rates of procedures rather than individual studies, which may incompletely represent the totality of medical evidence.