Influence of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Clinical Trial Discontinuation in Anesthesiology: Cross-sectional Analysis

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BACKGROUND: The COVID-19 pandemic drastically altered perioperative medical practice owing to safety concerns, postponing elective or nonemergent procedures, supply chain shortages, and reallocating perioperative staff to care for patients with COVID-19. However, the impact of the pandemic on the conduct on anesthesiology clinical research is unknown.

OBJECTIVE: The primary objective was to quantify the magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic's impact on anesthesiology clinical research.

METHODS: We performed a systematic search using to identify clinical trials related to the practice of anesthesiology. We screened trials with status updates from January 1, 2020, through October 1, 2021, to capture trials potentially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic by the time of our search. Investigators screened for relevant studies and extracted trial characteristics along with the reason for discontinuation reported on the clinical trial registry.

RESULTS: A total of 823 clinical trials met inclusion criteria, and 146 clinical trials were discontinued within the designated date range. In total, 24 (16.4%) of the 146 clinical trials were halted explicitly owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. A significant association existed between trial enrollment numbers and the likelihood of discontinuation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as larger trials were more likely to be disrupted (z=-2.914, P=.004).

CONCLUSIONS: The COVID-19 pandemic is reportedly associated with the discontinuation of anesthesiology-related clinical trials. With the uncertain course of the COVID-19 pandemic, developing anesthesia trial protocols to help minimize social interaction and prevent premature trial disruption are imperative.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)e34936
JournalJMIR perioperative medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - 5 Apr 2022


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