Commonwealth Fund Report Finds Medical School Leaders Question the Quality of Clinical Research

According to a survey conducted by the Commonwealth Fund Task Force on Academic Health Centers, with support from the , close to half of the research leaders at U.S. medical schools question the overall quality of the clinical research being conducted.

According to the survey of research administrators at the 122 accredited, U.S. medical schools, nine out of ten research leaders reported that pressures to see patients and insufficient clinical revenue are problems for clinical research. Four out of five research leaders (81 percent) consider the challenges facing clinical research — defined as research that involves living humans as subjects — at medicals schools to be urgent or extremely urgent. Despite this sense of urgency, less than half of these leaders said that their department or institution had implemented strategic policies to address the problems facing clinical research.

Research leaders reported that clinical research faces additional serious challenges: inability to recruit trained clinical researchers (75 percent); lack of external support for clinical research (72 percent); competition from contract research organizations (48 percent); problems associated with the internal review board process (38 percent); and difficulty finding research subjects (37 percent).

"Here we have a survey where medical school leaders across the country have taken a hard look at their clinical research enterprises and many are concerned about what they saw," said Eric G. Campbell, Ph.D., of the Institute for Health Policy at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. "If those who are closest to this kind of research think there are problems, that sends a clear signal that steps need to be taken to improve clinical research — or at least raise it to the quality level of basic research."

"New JAMA Study: Close to Half of All Medical School Leaders Question Status of Clinical Research in the U.S" Commonwealth Fund Press Release 08/14/2001.