STAT’s guide to interpreting clinical trial results


STAT’s guide to interpreting clinical trial results

Published: Mar. 2020

Interpreting clinical trial results is not for the faint of heart. Companies spin, short-sellers hawk, and everyone else is left swimming through the muck. But there is an art to reading, and writing, scientific results — and you can learn it.

In this report, STAT senior writers Sharon Begley and Adam Feuerstein provide basic tools to help you read clinical trial results with an appropriately skeptical (or at least critical) eye. They also examine specific examples of spin, noting the sections of papers reporting the results of clinical trials where they appear — and why that matters. If you’re looking to cut through noise to better understand scientific data or make sense of company performance and value, this report will give you the foundation you need to make smarter business decisions.

Highlights include:

  • A definition of spin in clinical trials, supported by real life examples.
  • Four key questions to ask when evaluating clinical trial results, and an overview of additional tools you need to read results more critically
  • Analysis of the red flags you should look for in clinical trial design, execution, and reporting of results.

You can find the updated version of this report from 2023 here