Industry-funded trials show bias for pharmacotherapy over psychotherapy

Analysis of 45 studies leads researchers to conclude that journals should require authors to declare any industry ties.

From left (top): Ioana A. Cristea, Pim Cuijpers. Bottom: Pietro Pietrini and Claudio Gentili

Sponsorship bias has been described in drug therapy studies but has not been widely explored in relation to non-pharmacological treatments, such as psychotherapy.

A paper published in The British Journal of Psychiatry
(online, 3 November 2016) looked at 45 studies comparing the efficacy of psychotherapy with pharmacotherapy in depression to see if an industry bias could be detected.

The meta-analysis found that pharmacotherapy was significantly more effective than psychotherapy in the 20 industry-funded studies, while non-industry funded studies showed no difference between the two treatments. The researchers also discovered five instances where one or more authors had not declared a financial conflict of interest.

The team says the level of industry bias detected in the study was subtle but suggests that journals should require authors to declare all industry ties, a policy that has already been adopted by some publications.


[1] Cristea IA, Gentili C, Pietrini P et al. Sponsorship bias in the comparative efficacy of psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy for adult depression: meta-analysis. The British Journal of Psychiatry 2016; doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.115.179275

Last updated
Clinical Pharmacist, CP, December 2016, Vol 8, No 12;8(12):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2016.20201988

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