China must ramp up clinical trial development & training

By Nick Taylor

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Clinical research Clinical trial The canon of medicine Avicenna

China must step up efforts to promote development of clinical trials and improve its research training programmes, according to a Lancet paper.

Despite growth in randomised clinical trials, up from 85 in 2000 to 743 in 2009, China publishes little influential research in leading western journals. The China Medical Board, an independent American foundation, funded an investigation into how to improve the situation​ and reform policy.

An increase in the number of research-related courses, both at undergraduate and graduate levels, is needed. Furthermore, a change in approach, moving away from formal expository teaching, is needed to promote students’ critical thinking and creativity in clinical research.

These conclusions were reached after investigating courses provided at Peking University. This is the leading medical research institution in China, according to the paper, and consequently its deficiencies are likely to be mirrored, and possibly magnified, at other organisations.

Researchers assessed: the prevalence of Chinese research in western journals; trial activity and knowledge among practicing hospital doctors; and the level of training provided to medical students. Having made these assessments the researchers highlighted areas for improvement.

Trials today

Revising training programmes should improve research capabilities among doctors. In a survey of 2005 doctors employed across six Peking University-affiliated hospitals 28 respondents got full marks on the Fresno test, a tool for assessing evidence-based medicine knowledge and skill.

Improvements in clinical research capabilities correlated to awareness of hospital administrators, resources input and learning scientific thinking methods. Insufficient funding, lack of time and an unsupportive research environment were the top reasons for failing to be involved in trials.

Efforts to improve clinical research in China are underway. In 2003 the Chinese Institute of Medicine’s Clinical Research Roundtable brought stakeholders together to address challenges facing clinical research and formulate solutions. However, more work is needed.

China still needs to step up efforts in many aspects to promote the development of clinical research​.”

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