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Dr David Tuller: More on that Norwegian CBT/Music Therapy Study


Senior Member

Trial By Error: More on that Norwegian CBT/Music Therapy Study
16 MAY 2020
By David Tuller, DrPH
After the debacle with the Lightning Process study, you would think that BMJ would have learned an important lesson—editors and peer-reviewers should scrutinize the background materials for the trials they publish. That’s the best way to prevent selective outcome reporting and ensure that findings are reported as described in the trial registration and/or protocol.

To recap: In 2017, Archives of Disease in Childhood, a BMJ journal, published a study of the Lightning Process as a pediatric treatment for what the investigators called chronic fatigue syndrome. The Bristol University investigators recruited more than half the participants before trial registration and swapped outcome measures midway through. Then they failed to disclose these salient details in the published paper. Although these actions appeared to meet standard definitions of research misconduct and violated BMJ’s own strict guidelines, the journal decided last year to let the reported findings stand–albeit with a 3,000-word correction notice.

Now BMJ has published another paper that significantly diverges from the metrics outlined in the study documentation—in this case, the trial registration. The study, posted last month by BMJ Paediatrics Open, is called “Cognitive-behavioural therapy combined with music therapy for chronic fatigue following Epstein-Barr virus infection in adolescents: a feasibility study.”