Wiener Klinische Wochenschrift

, Volume 116, Issue 14, pp 500–503

Reporting of ethical standards: Differences between complementary and orthodox medicine journals?

  • Byungmook Lim
  • Katja Schmidt
  • Adrian White
  • Edzard Ernst
Short Report



This study aimed at assessing whether there are differences in the reporting of ethical aspects of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) and mainstream medical research.


Review of published literature


Research department of medical school.

Main outcome measures

Reports of ethical aspects including adherence to clinical guidelines, ethical approval from ethics committees, consent of the patient, declaration of conflict of interest, and declaration of funding for a study.


We included 21 articles from CAM journals, as well as 16 from equal impact factor mainstream (EIF) journals and 27 from high impact factor (HIF) journals. A statistically significant difference was found in the reporting of ethical approval; 62% of all CAM articles, 75% of the EIF and 93% of the HIF journal articles reported approval from ethics committees [X2=(2, n=64) 6.631, p<0.05]. Regarding the reporting of obtaining patients consent there were no statistically significant differences: 48% of all CAM articles, 38% of the EIF mainstream and 67% of the HIF mainstream journal articles explicity stated that patients signed a consent from [X2=(2, n=64) 3.813, p>.05]. High impact factor journals were more likely to report on ethical standards than other journals on conflicts of interests and sponsorship. However, they were less likely to report a reference to ethical guidelines. Articles from CAM journals had more strict reporting requirements than mainstream medicine journals with comparable impact factors


Differences exist between complementary and orthodox medical journals in the reporting of ethical aspects of trial design.

Key words

Reporting ethics consent complementary medicine guidelines 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Byungmook Lim
    • 1
  • Katja Schmidt
    • 2
  • Adrian White
    • 3
  • Edzard Ernst
    • 2
  1. 1.Korea Institute of Oriental MedicineKorea
  2. 2.Complementary Medicine, Peninsula Medical SchoolUniversities of Exeter and PlymouthExeterUK
  3. 3.British Medical Acupuncture SocietyLondonUK

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