Comparison of published and unpublished phase I clinical cancer trials: an analysis of the database

D. Shepshelovich, H. Goldvaser, L. Wang, A. R. Abdul Razak*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Introduction The role of phase I cancer trials is constantly evolving and they are increasingly being used in ‘go/no’ decisions in drug development. As a result, there is a growing need to ensure trials are published when completed. There are limited data on the publication rate and the factors associated with publication in phase I trials. Methods The database was searched for completed adult phase I cancer trials with reported results. PubMed was searched for matching publications published prior to April 1, 2017. Logistic regression was used to identify factors associated with unpublished trials. Linear regression was used to explore factors associated with time lag from study database lock to publication for published trials. Results The study cohort included 319 trials. 95 (30%) trials had no matching publication. Thirty (9%) trials were not published in abstract form as well. On multivariable analysis, the most significant factor associated with unpublished trials was industry funding (odds ratio 3.3, 95% confidence interval 1.7-6.6, p=0.019). For published trials, time lag between database lock and publication was longer by 10.9 months (standard error 3.6, p<0.001) for industry funded trials compared with medical center funded trials. Conclusions Timely publishing of early cancer clinical trials results remains unsatisfactory. Industry funded phase I cancer trials were more likely to remain unpublished, and were associated with a longer time lag from database lock to publication. Policies that promote transparency and data sharing in clinical trial research might improve accountability among industry and investigators and improve timely results publication.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)933-938
Number of pages6
JournalInvestigational New Drugs
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2018


FundersFunder number
National Institutes of Health


    • Cancer
    • Phase I
    • Publication


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