Limited data exist about the role of the lay media (including the financial press) in the dissemination of results of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in common cancers.
We searched clinicaltrials.gov to identify phase III RCTs evaluating new drugs in breast, colorectal, lung and prostate cancer. We included all completed and active trials that have completed accrual between 1 January 2005 and 31 October 2016. Reporting of trials in the lay media was identified by a systematic search of Lexis-Nexis Academic using the name of the drug and trial. Scientific reporting was defined as presentation at a conference or publication in full in the scientific literature. Associations between reporting in the lay media before scientific reporting and study design, results and sponsorship were evaluated using logistic regression.
Of the 180 RCTs identified, 55% were positive, 79% were performed with palliative intent and 79% evaluated targeted therapies (including endocrine and immunotherapy). We identified 93 (52%) reports in the lay media (66% of positive trials and 38% of negative trials). In 49 cases (27%) reporting in the lay media occurred before scientific reporting with an increasing trend over time (p = 0.009). Among these, 53% presented quantitative data. The median time between lay media reporting and scientific reporting was 16 weeks (range 1-220 weeks). Reporting in the lay media before scientific reporting was associated with positive results (OR 3.12, p
Over a quarter of all RCTs in common cancers are reported in the lay media before they are reported scientifically. Positive trials, industry sponsorship, palliative intent, journal impact factor and evaluation of new targeted therapy, especially in prostate cancer are associated with early reporting in the lay media.
Clinical trial identification
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All authors have declared no conflicts of interest.