(Mirror Daily, United States) – Turning work in does end with college, as researchers need to do the same with their completed work. According to a new analysis, psychology researchers have failed to publish a significant portion of their results which may have led to inaccurate conclusions.
Study authors discovered that our view on the effectiveness of psychotherapy as treatment for major depression might be distorted by the fact that around 25 percent of the publicly funded research on the matter has remained unpublished.
Worse than their omission is the fact that when these missing studies were taken into consideration, the benefits of therapy for depression were suddenly not as strong as previously believed. According to study author Prof. Steven Hollon, teaching psychology at Vanderbilt University, we are not to discard the psychotherapy benefits altogether, because it does work.
However, it’s not by far as powerful as scientific literature has led us to believe. A previous analysis on the overestimated effect that pharmacological treatments have on depression was the basis for this research.
It included an extensive perusing of all proposed studies that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has funded from 1972 to 2008 related to the effectiveness of psychotherapy in cases of major depression. The only conditions were that the study be randomized, in a controlled environment and performed on adults aged 18 or older.
The complete review of the studies was made possible by the publicly available database of NIH-funded research, which includes both published and unpublished studies. It turns out that out of the 57 NIH grants, 42 ended in a published study, 13 were completed but never published, and 2 were never even conducted.
When the overall review was performed, the team also included the missing research that contained perfectly valid studies, and the result showed a significant weighing down of the previous benefits.
The original researchers were contacted and asked why they didn’t publish their studies; the most common response was that they considered their work irrelevant or not interesting enough. Even though such responses might be disappointing, they are not surprising.
According to Hollon, this kind of attitude is part of a larger systemic problem called “publication bias;” it means that researchers often feel compelled – inadvertently – to make their results public only if they are flashy or positive enough to interest the public. Less impressive findings are usually shelved away, which can have dramatic repercussions in the scientific world.
Bearing this in mind, both the public and the decision makers, such as clinicians and guideline developers, should take scientific literature with a grain of salt, taking under consideration the potential overestimation of the results.
Image Source: Huffington Post