A comparison of registered and published primary outcomes in clinical trials of opioid use disorder: ACTTION review and recommendations

Bethea A. Kleykamp, McKenzie C. Ferguson, Ewan McNicol, Ida Bixho, Michele Matthews, Dennis C. Turk, Robert H. Dworkin, Eric C. Strain

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background and Aims: Prospective trial registration can increase research integrity. This Analgesic, Anesthetic, and Addiction Clinical Trial Translations, Innovations, Opportunities, and Networks (ACTTION) review was designed to compare the primary outcomes (PO) reported in registries with associated publications for opioid use disorder (OUD) clinical trials. Design: The World Health Organization's International Clinical Trials Registry Platform (ICTRP) was searched for completed trials (2010 through 2019). Associated publications were identified and paired with trial registry data based on the publication date. Measurements: Reviewers independently rated the occurrence of discrepancies between the POs in the registry compared to the publication. An analysis of prospective versus retrospective registration was also completed. Findings: One-hundred and forty trials were identified in the search, and 43 registry-publication pairs evaluated. Only 34 of the 43 pairs could be examined for discrepancies because nine did not report a PO in registry and publication. Of the 34 pairs, only four met rigorous criteria for prospective trial registration and had an exact match of POs. In contrast, the majority of the 34 trials, or 80%, had inconsistent POs (e.g., registered secondary outcomes published as primary; the timing of PO not specified) and/or were retrospectively registered. Conclusions: Many clinical trials focused on OUD have not met the standards of trial registration, such as consistent reporting of POs and prospective registration. Failure to properly register trial characteristics undermines the validity of research findings and can delay the development of life-saving treatments. Recommendations for improving prospective trial reporting practices are provided.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number109447
JournalDrug and alcohol dependence
StatePublished - Jul 1 2022


  • Bias
  • ClinicalTrials.gov
  • Opioid use disorder
  • Trial registration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology


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