The Influence of COVID-19 on Clinical Trial Discontinuation in Anesthesiology

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review


Background: Clinical trials are at the forefront of modern medicine and evidence-based care, as they provide novel diagnostic tools and interventions for a variety of conditions. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly disrupted clinical trial conduct and hindered trial accessibility and overall development due to public safety measures, such as lockdowns and mandatory closures. Anesthesiologists have played a vital role in the COVID-19 pandemic response, specifically regarding airway management and ventilatory support due to virus-induced hypoxemia, pulmonary infiltrates, and altered lung function. Moreover, the increased demand for anesthetic equipment required for intubation of COVID-19 patients has led to a downstream shortage of supplies for elective cases, placing non-COVID-19 patients at a disadvantage to receiving adequate care. Given their important role in perioperative medicine, anesthesiologists will continue to rely on findings from clinical trials to stay up-to-date with novel interventions and therapies, and interruptions to clinical research may have important implications. Therefore, the primary objective of this study is to highlight the impact of COVID-19 on the progress of clinical trials relating to anesthesiology.

Methods: We generated a systematic search on October 2, 2021 using to identify clinical trials related to the practice of anesthesiology. To receive all trials potentially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, our date range was January 1, 2020 through October 1, 2021. Investigators screened for relevant studies and performed data extraction in duplicate. Trials were included for the criteria that follow: (1) the study is relevant to the clinical practice of anesthesiologists for use in perioperative care including: induction, sedation, emergence, analgesia, hemodynamic stability, oxygenation, pain management, and complications secondary to anesthetic methods, (2) the study is interventional in nature, (3) the study status is ongoing (recruiting, active but not recruiting, enrolling by invitation) or discontinued (suspended, withdrawn, or terminated), and (4) the study is in any phase (I, II, III, IV).

Results: A total of 823 clinical trials met inclusion criteria, and 146 clinical trials were discontinued within the designated date range. Twenty-four (16.4%) of the 146 clinical trials were halted explicitly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The majority of the trials (20, 83.3%) were found to have a primary intervention of Drug, while 4 (16.7%) were Procedure. A significant association existed between trial enrollment numbers and the likelihood of discontinuation due to COVID-19, as larger trials were more likely to be disrupted ( z= -2.914, P=.0036).

Conclusions: The COVID-19 pandemic crisis has played a significant role in anesthesia-related research progress. Therefore, it is critical to consider further efforts in maintaining trial conduction with the purpose of improving anesthetic care. The value of collective data collection and dissemination to researchers and anesthesia providers has been evident throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall, anesthesia-related research must continue even during difficult times, and the unforeseen end to the COVID-19 pandemic should spark an initiative to incorporate innovative methods for data retrieval and trial conduct within the breadth of anesthesiology.
Original languageAmerican English
StatePublished - 18 Feb 2022
EventOklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences Research Week 2022 : Poster Presentation - Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences, Tulsa, United States
Duration: 14 Feb 202218 Feb 2022


ConferenceOklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences Research Week 2022
Country/TerritoryUnited States


  • clinical trials
  • anesthesia
  • anesthesiology
  • COVID-19
  • pandemic


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