Schizophrenia trials conducted in African countries: A drop of evidence in the ocean of morbidity?
Adams, Clive E.
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Objective: To quantify schizophrenia trialling activity in African countries and to describe the main features of these trials. Methods: We searched the Cochrane Schizophrenia Group Register, which contains 16,000 citations to 13,000 studies relating only to people with schizophrenia or schizophrenia-like illness, to identify schizophrenia trials conducted in Africa without time limitation. Results: A total of 38 trials met the inclusion criteria and were included in our analysis. Of the 54 countries of Africa, only 8 produced at least one trial: South Africa produced the majority of trials (20 out of 38 trials, 53%), followed by Nigeria (7 out of 38 trials, 18%) and Egypt (4 out of 38 trials, 11%). The majority of studies investigated the efficacy of pharmacological interventions, were short in duration, and employed a double-blind design. The quality of reporting was generally poor. We found six trials comparing antipsychotics from the WHO Essential List of Medicine versus new generation antipsychotics. In terms of efficacy and acceptability, these studies failed to show any advantage of newer antipsychotics over first-generation agents. Conclusions: We observed an impressive mismatch between the number of individuals with schizophrenia living in African countries, estimated to be around 10 million, and the overall number of patients included in African trials, which is less than 2,000. These few trials were of low quality and appeared not to reflect the real needs of the population. We argue that the concept of pragmatism should be introduced into the design of randomized trials in African countries. Pragmatic trials should investigate whether treatments, given in real-world circumstances, really have clinically meaningful effects. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved) (Source: journal abstract)