Providing best clinical care involves using the best available evidence of effectiveness to inform treatment decisions. Producing this evidence begins with trials and continues through synthesis of their findings towards evidence incorporation within comprehensible, usable guidelines, for clinicians and patients at the point of care. However, there is enormous wastage in this evidence production process, with less than 50% of the published biomedical literature considered sufficient in conduct and reporting to be fit for purpose. Over the last 30 years, independent collaborative initiatives have evolved to optimise the evidence to improve patient care. These collaborations each recommend how to improve research quality in a small way at many different stages of the evidence production and distillation process. When we consider these minimal improvements at each stage from an 'aggregation of marginal gains' perspective, the accumulation of small enhancements aggregates, thereby greatly improving the final product of 'best available evidence'. The myriad of tools to reduce research quality leakage and evidence loss should be routinely used by all those with responsibility for ensuring that research benefits patients, that is, those who pay for research (funders), produce it (researchers), take part in it (patients/participants) and use it (clinicians, policy makers and service commissioners).
- Clinical trials