Characteristics of the reporting of funding by trial authors: a systematic survey of 200 randomized controlled trials




Poster session 3


Tuesday 25 October 2016 - 10:30 to 11:00


All authors in correct order:

Hakoum MB1, Jouni N2, Abou-Jaoude EA3, Hasbani DJ4, Abou-Jaoude EA5, Lopes LC6, Khaldieh M2, Hammoud MZ7, Al-Gibbawi M4, Anouti S8, Guyatt G9, Akl EA1
1 Clinical Research Institute, American University of Beirut Medical Center, Lebanon
2 American University of Beirut, Lebanon
3 School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, State University of New York at Buffalo, USA
4 Faculty of Medicine, American University of Beirut, Lebanon
5 State University of New York at Buffalo, USA
6 Pharmaceutical Science Master Course, University of Sorocaba, Brazil
7 Faculty of Medicine, University of Balamand, Lebanon
8 Department of Epidemiology and Population Health, American University of Beirut, Lebanon
9 Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, McMaster University, Canada
Presenting author and contact person

Presenting author:

Maram Hakoum

Contact person:

Abstract text
Background: Systematic reviewers are expected to collect information about the funding of trials included in their reviews.

Objectives: To assess the reporting of funding in randomized controlled trials (RCT).

Methods: Using standard systematic review methodology, we surveyed clinical RCT reports published in 2015 in any of the 119 Core Clinical Journals. We extracted data on whether the authors disclosed trial funding. We assessed whether authors explicitly reported the source of funding and role of funder as involved or not involved in specific trial phases. We categorized the sources of funding as 'internal and external funding', 'including government', 'private for profit', 'private not for profit with evidence of support by private for profit that is a healthcare industry', 'private not for profit with evidence of support by private for profit that is not a healthcare industry', 'private not for profit with no evidence of support by private for profit'. We assessed whether trials on pharmacological or surgical interventions reported on who supplied the medication or device.

Results: Of the 200 RCTs examined, 89% included a funding statement. Of these, 96% reported the existence of funding. The most commonly reported sources of funding were government and private for profit (58% and 40% respectively). The majority of RCTs (59% to 99%) did not provide a statement on the role of the funder. We identified descriptions of a total of 22 different roles of the funder. The most frequently reported roles related to the design of the study (42%); data collection (27%); data analysis or management (41%); manuscript preparation (32%); decision to submit the manuscript (15%), and conduct of the study (15%). Of 139 RCTs on pharmacological or surgical interventions, 29 (21%) reported information on the supplier of the medication or device. Based on the findings, we propose a framework for the reporting of funding.

Conclusions: Although the majority of RCTs report trial funding, there is considerable variability in the funding disclosures. A standardized approach to reporting of trial funding would help systematic reviewers assess their significance better.