Gynecological Studies Excluded Worthy Participants due to Varying SymptomsPublished on Thu Apr 20 2023 by Dustin Van Tate Testa Naval Hospital Jacksonville Obstetrics and Gynecology 230330-N-QA097-001 | Navy Medicine on flickr
A recent systematic review of published research has found that many clinical trials exclude participants based on their symptoms rather than their underlying condition, leading to inefficiencies and wasted resources in gynecological research. The study, which examined randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and their associated Cochrane reviews in the treatment of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and endometriosis, found that most trials enrolled only participants with specific symptoms, effectively excluding those who could potentially benefit from the treatment.
In total, the review identified 89 distinct PCOS trials in 13 reviews and 13 endometriosis trials in 11 reviews. The most common strategy employed by these trials was to restrict eligibility to participants with specific symptoms, which was observed in 55% of PCOS trials and 46% of endometriosis trials. Additionally, a significant number of trials measured and analyzed clinical outcomes that were not relevant to all participants, with 38% of PCOS trials and 31% of endometriosis trials employing this approach. Notably, 27% of reviews excluded trials based solely on outcome data.
These findings highlight the inefficiencies in current gynecological research. By excluding participants based on their symptoms or measuring irrelevant outcomes, researchers are missing the opportunity to fully utilize the patient population and provide potentially beneficial treatments. The study emphasizes the need for trials to consider the heterogeneity of symptoms experienced by gynecological patients and employ patient-specific outcome measures. This approach would not only reduce waste in research budgets and resources but also alleviate the burden on patients.
In conclusion, the systematic review of gynecological research demonstrates the importance of including participants who could potentially benefit from specific treatments, regardless of their specific symptoms. By addressing this issue, researchers can improve the efficiency and impact of their studies, advancing the field and providing better outcomes for patients.