Promotion of data sharing needs more than an emergency: An analysis of trends across clinical trials registered on the International Clinical Trials Registry Platform

Wellcome Open Research
21 Mar 2022
Laura Merson, Duduzile Ndwandwe, Thobile Malinga, Giuseppe Paparella, Kwame Oneil, Ghassan Karam, Robert F Terry



A growing body of evidence shows that sharing health research data with other researchers for secondary analyses can contribute to better health. This is especially important in the context of a public health emergency when stopping a pandemic depends on accelerating science.



We analysed the information on data sharing collected by the 18 clinical trial registries included in the WHO International Clinical Trials Registry Platform (ICTRP) to understand the reporting of data sharing plans and which studies were and were not planning to share data. Data on sponsor and funder organisations, country of recruitment, registry, and condition of study were standardised to compare the sharing of information and data across these facets. This represents the first ever comprehensive study of the complete data set contained in ICTRP.



Across 132,545 studies registered between January 2019 and December 2020, 11.2% of studies stated that individual patient data (IPD) would be shared. Plans to share IPD varied across the 18 contributing registries– information on data sharing was missing in >95% of study records across 7/18 registries. In the 26,851 (20.3%) studies that were funded or sponsored by a commercial entity, intention to share IPD was similar to those that were not (11.5% vs 11.2%). Intention to share IPD was most common in studies recruiting across both high-income and low- or middle-income countries (21.4%) and in those recruiting in Sub-Saharan Africa (50.3%). Studies of COVID-19 had similar levels of data sharing to studies of other non-pandemic diseases in 2020 (13.7% vs 11.7%).



Rates of planned IPD sharing vary between clinical trial registries and economic regions, and are similar whether commercial or non-commercial agencies are involved. Despite many calls to action, plans to share IPD have not increased significantly and remain below 14% for diseases causing public health emergencies