Disseminating the results of clinical trials before publication in peer-reviewed journals can change medical practice promptly and significantly, Gross et al report in the 13 December issue of Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA 2000 284:2886-2893).

Dr Cary Gross and colleagues from the Yale University School of Medicine looked into the practical impact of two carotid endarterectomy (CEA) trials, the results of which were disseminated by means of the National Institutes of Health clinical alerts before publication.

The monthly carotid endarterectomy (CEA) rate in seven US States was recorded from 1989 — two years before the first clinical alert — to 1996, two years after the second clinical alert. After the first clinical alert, the CEA rate increased by 3.4% per month during the following six months. After the results were published in a peer-reviewed journal, the monthly increase in the CEA rate was only 0.5%. For...

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