We have evaluated the reporting of withdrawals due to adverse effects and specific adverse effects in randomised controlled trials of recombinant human GH in adults. A systematic review was carried out of randomised controlled trials of the clinical effectiveness of recombinant human GH in adults with GH deficiency in relation to impact on quality of life. Trials were identified from searching electronic databases, bibliographies of related articles and consulting experts. There was reporting of withdrawals due to adverse effects and specific adverse effects. Rates of oedema and arthralgia were reported in included trials. Seventeen randomised controlled trials, published between 1990 and 1999, met the inclusion criteria for the review. Nine trials reported data on the effectiveness of GH on quality of life in adults. Only five trials (29%) reported both withdrawals from the study because of adverse events and specific adverse events with numbers per study arm and per type. Six further trials (35%) reported either withdrawal details or specific adverse event details or partial data on specific adverse events. Six trials (35%), however, did not report information on either withdrawals or specific adverse events. Ten of the 17 studies (59%) reported the number of patients who withdrew from the study due to adverse events per study arm and type of adverse event per study arm. Seven of the 17 trials (41%) reported the number of specific adverse events per study arm and six (35%) reported the type per study arm. The reporting of adverse events in randomised controlled trials of GH is variable and not consistent across trials. It is not possible to assess the impact that adverse events may have had on unblinding patients, and therefore the extent to which the effects of GH may have been overestimated. Therefore those conducting endocrinology trials in the future need to pay attention to the reporting of withdrawals due to adverse events and specific adverse events.
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