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75 trials and 11 systematic reviews published every day – Sept 2010

Seventy-Five Trials and Eleven Systematic Reviews a Day:
How Will We Ever Keep Up?

(It is impossible for the doctors to keep up with all of the medical advances)

Hilda Bastian1*, Paul Glasziou2, Iain Chalmers3
1 German Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG), Cologne, Germany, 2 Centre for Research in Evidence-Based Practice, Faculty of Health Sciences, Bond University, Gold Coast, Australia, 3 James Lind Library, James Lind Initiative, Oxford, United Kingdom
Citation: Bastian H, Glasziou P, Chalmers I (2010) Seventy-Five Trials and Eleven Systematic Reviews a Day: How Will We Ever Keep Up? PLoS Med 7(9): e1000326. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000326

Summary Points

  • When Archie Cochrane reproached the medical profession for not having critical summaries of all randomised controlled trials, about 14 reports of trials were being published per day. There are now 75 trials, and 11 systematic reviews of trials, per day and a plateau in growth has not yet been reached.
  • Although trials, reviews, and health technology assessments have undoubtedly had major impacts, the staple of medical literature synthesis remains the non-systematic narrative review. Only a small minority of trial reports are being analysed in up-to-date systematic reviews. Given the constraints, Archie Cochrane's vision will not be achieved without some serious changes in course.

To meet the needs of patients, clinicians, and policymakers, unnecessary trials need to be reduced, and systematic reviews need to be prioritised. Streamlining and innovation in methods of systematic reviewing are necessary to enable valid answers to be found for most patient questions. Finally, clinicians and patients require open access to these important resources.


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