Guidelines for the conduct of clinical trials for spinal cord injury as developed by the ICCP Panel: Clinical trial inclusion/exclusion criteria and ethics
Clinical Trials as Topic
Spinal Cord Injuries
The International Campaign for Cures of Spinal Cord Injury Paralysis established a panel tasked with reviewing the methodology for clinical trials for spinal cord injury (SCI), and making recommendations on the conduct of future trials. This is the third of four papers. It examines inclusion and exclusion criteria that can influence the design and analysis of clinical trials in SCI, together with confounding variables and ethical considerations. Inclusion and exclusion criteria for clinical trials should consider several factors. Among these are (1) the enrollment of subjects at appropriate stages after SCI, where there is supporting data from animal models or previous human studies; (2) the severity, level, type, or size of the cord injury, which can influence spontaneous recovery rate and likelihood that an experimental treatment will clinically benefit the subject; and (3) the confounding effects of various independent variables such as pre-existing or concomitant medical conditions, other medications, surgical interventions, and rehabilitation regimens. An issue of substantial importance in the design of clinical trials for SCI is the inclusion of blinded assessments and sham surgery controls: every effort should be made to address these major issues prospectively and carefully, if clear and objective information is to be gained from a clinical trial. The highest ethical standards must be respected in the performance of clinical trials, including the adequacy and clarity of informed consent.