Clinical Trials in Veterinary Medicine: A New Era Brings New Challenges.
Randomized clinical trials (RCTs) are among the most rigorous ways to determine the causal relationship between an intervention and important clinical outcome. Their use in veterinary medicine has become increasingly common, and as is often the case, with progress comes new challenges. Randomized clinical trials yield important answers, but results from these studies can be unhelpful or even misleading unless the study design and reporting are carried out with care. Herein, we offer some perspective on several emerging challenges associated with RCTs, including use of composite endpoints, the reporting of different forms of risk, analysis in the presence of missing data, and issues of reporting and safety assessment. These topics are explored in the context of previously reported veterinary internal medicine studies as well as through illustrative examples with hypothetical data sets. Moreover, many insights germane to RCTs in veterinary internal medicine can be drawn from the wealth of experience with RCTs in the human medical field. A better understanding of the issues presented here can help improve the design, interpretation, and reporting of veterinary RCTs.