Trial By Error: A Plea To Fiona Godlee On A Familiar Topic

David Tuller


By David Tuller, DrPH

On Wednesday, I sent the following to Dr Fiona Godlee, editorial director of BMJ. The topic, once again, was the ethically and methodologically challenged Lightning Process study, which was published two years ago in Archives of Disease in Childhood, a BMJ journal. My letter was prompted by the recent appearance of a review paper that cited this Archives report and called the Lightning Process “effective.”


Dear Fiona—

As you know, I have been pressing Archives of Disease in Childhood, a BMJ journal, to address problems with a 2017 paper called “Clinical and cost-effectiveness of the Lightning Process in addition to specialist medical care for paediatric chronic fatigue syndrome: randomised controlled trial.” More than a year ago, I reported on Virology Blog and informed Archives of Disease in Childhood that the investigators, a team from Bristol University, recruited 56% of the participants before trial registration, swapped primary and secondary outcomes based on early results, and then failed to disclose these details in the published paper.


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