Healthcare's dirty little secret: results from many clinical trials are unreliable

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle


Clinical trials have been the gold standard of scientific testing ever since the Scottish naval surgeon Dr James Lind conducted the first while trying to conquer scurvy in 1747. They attract tens of billions of dollars of annual investment and researchers have published almost a million trials to date according to the most complete register, with 25,000 more each year.

Clinical trials break down into two categories: trials to ensure a treatment is fit for human use and trials to compare different existing treatments to find the most effective. The first category is funded by medical companies and mainly happens in private laboratories.
Original languageEnglish
Specialist publicationThe Conversation
PublisherThe Conversation UK
Publication statusPublished - 18 Oct 2016

Bibliographical note

Heidi Gardner receives funding from the Chief Scientist Office Scotland, and payments for blogging services from Firefish Software, which specialises in the design of recruitment (staffing) software.

Katie Gillies receives funding from the Medical Research Council.

Shaun Treweek has received funding from the Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Government Health Directorates and from the Development Trust at the University of Aberdeen.


  • Research
  • Healthcare
  • Aspirin
  • Clinical trials
  • NHS
  • drug treatment
  • Scurvy


Dive into the research topics of 'Healthcare's dirty little secret: results from many clinical trials are unreliable'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this