Comparing clinical trial population representativeness to real-world populations: an external validity analysis encompassing 43 895 trials and 5 685 738 individuals across 989 unique drugs and 286 conditions in England
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Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) inform prescription guidelines, but stringent eligibility criteria exclude individuals with vulnerable characteristics, which we define as comorbidities, concomitant medication use, and vulnerabilities due to age. Poor external validity can result in inadequate treatment decision information. Our first aim was to quantify the extent of exclusion of individuals with vulnerable characteristics from RCTs for all prescription drugs. Our second aim was to quantify the prevalence of individuals with vulnerable characteristics from population electronic health records who are actively prescribed such drugs. In tandem, these two aims will allow us to assess the representativeness between RCT and real-world populations and identify vulnerable populations potentially at risk of inadequate treatment decision information. When a vulnerable population is highly excluded from RCTs but has a high prevalence of individuals actively being prescribed the same medication, there is likely to be a gap in treatment decision information. Our third aim was to investigate the use of real-world evidence in contributing towards quantifying missing treatment risk or benefit through an observational study.
20 September 2022
27 September 2022
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