Objectives: To compare the contemporary Cochrane review approach for retrieving information on trial funding and researchers’ conflicts of interest with a structured approach for information retrieval. Study Design and Setting: Methodological study of 100 Cochrane reviews from August to December 2020 and one randomly selected trial from each review. Reporting of trial funding and researchers’ conflicts of interest in reviews was compared with information identified using a structured retrieval process, and time to retrieve information was noted. We also formulated a guide to systematic reviewers for efficient information retrieval. Results: Sixty-eight of 100 Cochrane reviews reported trial funding and 24 reported trial researchers’ conflicts of interest. A simple structured approach, searching only trial publications (including conflicts of interest disclosure forms), identified funding for 16 additional trials and conflicts of interest information for 39 additional trials. A comprehensive structured approach, searching multiple information sources, identified funding for two additional trials and conflicts of interest for 14 additional trials. The median time to retrieve information was 10 minutes per trial (interquartile range: 7–15) for the simple approach and 20 minutes (11–43) for the comprehensive approach. Conclusion: A structured information retrieval approach improves identification of funding and researchers’ conflicts of interest in trials included in Cochrane reviews.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We thank the corresponding trial authors for providing additional relevant information. Funding: This research did not receive any specific grants from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.
© 2023 The Authors
- Cochrane review
- Conflicts of interest
- Methodological study
- Randomized trial
- Systematic review