Background: Trial investigators have an ethical responsibility to disseminate their findings. This is traditionally done by publishing in peer-reviewed journals. Whether the tested intervention is shown to have no effect, benefits or harm, and whether or not the findings are clinically important, the results should be made available. However, this does not always happen. The lack of trial data negatively impacts the evidence ecosystem. Sadly, this may have negative consequences patient and healthcare consumers that rely on up-to-date trusted evidence.
Objectives: To identify investigator-targeted interventions that have been tested to promote publishing research findings.
Methods: We conducted a scoping review using the PRISMA guidelines. We searched PubMed and Scopus using words related to interventions and "publication bias", "trial*", "publication*", "publish", etc., no date or language limitations. This was followed by backward and forward citation searches. We screened and extracted data in duplicate and independently.
Results: We screened 10,000 records and found 23 full texts to review, of which one study was eligible. The backward and forward citations yielded an additional 47 eligible studies. None of the studies focused on trial investigators but on general health-related researchers. All studies focused on writing interventions through workshops, mentoring and peer support to encourage and capacitate investigators to publish their research findings in journals. Generally, participants had increased confidence in their writing abilities. 70% of participants published as a result of these interventions.
Conclusions: We can find a gap in the research with this scoping review. There are no studies focused on trial investigators that are testing interventions to promote efficient publication of trial data in journals.
Recommendations: Organisations and individuals in Africa need to agree on interventions to ensure that trial data gets published. Additional interventions may be helpful, such as prompting investigators by institutional ethics committees or trial registries after the estimated completion date of the trial. Additionally, interventions such as writing workshops, writing retreats, writing mentors, and using checklists like the Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials or a combination may prove helpful.
Acknowledgements: The author(s) is solely responsible for the content of this article, including all errors or omissions; acknowledgements do not imply endorsement of the content. The author is grateful to Siziwe Ngcwabe, the content committee and the Africa Evidence Network team for their guidance in the preparation and finalisation of this article as well as their editorial support.
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