Discontinuation and nonpublication of pediatric otolaryngology clinical trials

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Objectives: Randomized controlled trial (RCT) discontinuation and nonpublication are potential mechanisms of waste in resources and lead to decreased advancement of medical science and compromised ethical issues in all specialties. However, the prevalence of discontinued or unpublished RCTs regarding common pediatric otolaryngology disorders and interventions remains unclear. Study design: Cross-sectional analysis. Methods: Retrospective analysis of common pediatric otolaryngology RCTs registered in ClinicalTrials.gov up until November 2, 2018. Data were collected from the registry, and publication status was identified. If a reason for trial discontinuation or nonpublication was not identified through a systematic search, corresponding trialists were contacted through email. Results: After exclusion, 260 RCTs were included for analysis. Analysis found 198 (76%) RCTs were completed, and 62 (24%) trials were discontinued. The most commonly reported reasons for RCT discontinuation were program termination by sponsor or management (7/24; 29.2%), lack of participant enrollment, difficulty recruiting, or slow accrual (7/24; 29.2%). A total of 192 (192/260; 73.8%) published RCTs and 68 (68/260; 26.2%) unpublished RCTs were identified. Twenty-six (26/62; 42%) of the discontinued RCTs reached publication, while 36 (58%) remained unpublished. Regarding the completed RCTs, 166 of 198 (83.8%) completed trials reached publication, while 32 (32/198; 16.2%) remained unpublished after trial completion. Conclusions: Approximately 1 in 4 of included RCTs were discontinued or did not reach publication. Findings suggest further guidance is needed for RCTs regarding common pediatric otolaryngology disorders and interventions. Level of evidence: NA.

Original languageEnglish
Article number110972
JournalInternational Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Clinical trials
  • Discontinuation
  • Pediatric otolaryngology
  • Publication
  • Randomized controlled trials


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