Descriptions and Interpretations of the ACCORD-Lipid Trial in the News and Biomedical Literature: A Cross-Sectional Analysis

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The lipid component of the Action to Control Cardiovascular Risk in Diabetes (ACCORD-Lipid) trial was a landmark, publicly funded study demonstrating that fenofibrate, when added to statin therapy, was not associated with improved cardiovascular outcomes among patients with diabetes mellitus. We performed a cross-sectional study of all articles describing the results of ACCORD-Lipid in the news and biomedical literature in the 15 months following its publication. For articles published in biomedical journals, we determined whether there was an association between authors’ conflicts of interest and trial interpretation. We identified 67 news articles and 141 biomedical journal articles discussing ACCORD-Lipid. Approximately 30% of news and biomedical journal articles described fenofibrate as ineffective, whereas nearly 20% concluded it was effective. Among articles making a recommendation, approximately 50% of news and 67% of biomedical journal articles supported continued fibrate use. Authors with conflicts of interest were more likely to describe fenofibrate as effective (27.1% vs 8.9%; relative risk, 3.03; 95% CI, 1.22-7.50; P = .008) and support continued fibrate use (77.4% vs 45.8%; 1.69; 1.07-2.67; P = .006). The ACCORD-Lipid trial was described inconsistently in news and biomedical journal articles, possibly creating uncertainty among patients and physicians. In addition, conflicts of interest were associated with more favorable trial interpretation.

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