Sunday, 14 July 2019

Trial registration in nursing: room for improvement

Roger Watson, Editor-in-Chief

Since the advent of the AllTrials campaign, the registration of clinical trials has improved. Ideally, trials should be registered, with a published protocol, prior to their start date and certainly before publication. Since the start of 2019 JAN insists the all trials which it publishes - in fact all studies of patient interventions as defined by the WHO (Noyes 2018) - are registered prospectively and demonstrably. If they are  not, they will be rejected.

I am very grateful to Professor Richard Gray from LaTrobe University in Melbourne, Australia who, along with colleagues (2017, 2019), has been monitoring the situation in nursing. He has also been, specifically, monitoring the situation in JAN and has published reviews for 2017 and 2018. The most recent contribution, published in JAN is: 'A review of prospective registration of trials published in nursing science journals in 2017'. This study aimed to: 'determine the proportion of trials published in nursing science journals in 2017 that were prospectively registered'. The results of the study are summarised by the authors as follows: 'Of 151 randomized controlled trials published in nursing science journals in 2017, 17 (11%) were prospectively registered. Thirty-six (24%) trials were retrospectively and 93 (62%) not registered. We could not determine the registration status of five (3%) trials. The registration number was included in the abstract of two prospectively and eight retrospectively registered studies. Compared with the rest of the world, trial registration rates were significantly lower in Asian countries'. I am happy to say that JAN - at 18th place in the 'league table' - comes out well; but we could do better.

The authors conclude: 'Funding bodies, study sponsors, journal editors and trialists all have an important role to play in improving prospective trial registration. We intend to repeat this review with trials published in 2018 (and again in subsequent years). It is our hope is that by headlining the number of trials in the disciple that are prospectively registered we raise awareness among colleagues and as a result, improving the quality of future nursing science'.

You can listen to this as a podcast


Gray, R. , Gray, G. and Brown, E. (2019), A review of prospective registration of trials published in nursing science journals in 2017. J Adv Nurs. doi:10.1111/jan.14131

Gray, R. , Brown, E. and Gray, G. (2019), A review of prospective trial registration in the Journal of Advanced Nursing in 2018. J Adv Nurs. doi:10.1111/jan.14090

Gray, R. , Badnapurkar, A. and Thomas, D. (2017), Reporting of clinical trials in nursing journals: how are we doing?. J Adv Nurs, 73: 2782-2784. doi:10.1111/jan.13149

Noyes, J. (2018), Which studies should be registered on a clinical trials registry?. J Adv Nurs, 74: 2479-2479. doi:10.1111/jan.13696