The potential side-effects of health interventions were not fully reported in more than a third of published health study reviews, research at the University of York has shown.
Negative outcomes of a health intervention refers to either a drug reaction or an effect of a procedure, such as surgery. Harmful side-effects can be rare and long-term and therefore difficult to analyse as an outcome of a health intervention.
Researchers argue, however, that it is still essential that harmful side-effects are included in reviews of healthcare interventions to fully inform medical practice, health policies, and patients.
The new study looked at the reporting of adverse events in 187 systematic reviews published between 2017 and 2018. Systematic reviews in health research aim to summarise the results of controlled healthcare interventions and provide evidence of the effectiveness of a healthcare intervention.
Research showed that 35 per cent of reviewers did not fully report the side-effects of the medical intervention under review.
Dr Su Golder, from the University of York’s Department of Health Sciences, said: “Despite reviewers stating in their own protocols that adverse events should be included in the review, 65 per cent fully reported the event as intended by the protocol, eight per cent entirely excluded them, and the remaining 27 per cent either partially reported or changed the adverse event outcomes.”