|Publisher||Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory|
Background. The benefits from responsible sharing of individual-participant data (IPD) from clinical studies are well recognized, but stakeholders often disagree on how to align those benefits with privacy risks, costs, and incentives for clinical trialists and sponsors. Recently, the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) required a data sharing statement (DSS) from submissions reporting clinical trials effective July 1, 2018. We set out to evaluate the implementation of the policy in three leading medical journals (JAMA, Lancet, and New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM)).
Methods. A MEDLINE/PubMed search of clinical trials published in the three journals between July 1, 2018 and April 4, 2020 identified 487 eligible trials (JAMA n = 112, Lancet n = 147, NEJM n = 228). Two reviewers evaluated each of the 487 articles independently. Captured outcomes were declared data availability, data type, access, conditions and reasons for data (un)availability, and funding sources.
Findings. 334 (68.6%, 95% confidence interval (CI), 64.1%-72.5%) articles declared data sharing, with non-industry NIH-funded trials exhibiting the highest rates of declared data sharing (88.9%, 95% CI, 80.0%-97.8) and industry-funded trials the lowest (61.3%, 95% CI, 54.3%-68.3). However, only two IPD datasets were actually deidentified and publicly available as of April 10, 2020. The remaining were supposedly accessible via request to authors (42.8%, 143/334), repository (26.6%, 89/334), and company (23.4%, 78/334). Among the 89 articles declaring to store IPD in repositories, only 17 articles (19.1%) deposited data, mostly due to embargo and regulatory approval. Embargo was set in 47.3% (158/334) of data-sharing articles, and in half of them the period exceeded 1 year or was unspecified.
Interpretation. Most trials published in JAMA, Lancet, and NEJM after the implementation of the ICMJE policy declared their intent to make data available. However, a wide gap between declared and actual data sharing exists. To improve transparency and data reuse, journals should promote the use of unique pointers to dataset location and standardized choices for embargo periods and access requirements. All data, code, and materials used in this analysis are available on OSF at https://osf.io/s5vbg/.
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