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In Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association : JAMIA

OBJECTIVE : Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) are the gold standard method for evaluating whether a treatment works in health care but can be difficult to find and make use of. We describe the development and evaluation of a system to automatically find and categorize all new RCT reports.

MATERIALS AND METHODS : Trialstreamer continuously monitors PubMed and the World Health Organization International Clinical Trials Registry Platform, looking for new RCTs in humans using a validated classifier. We combine machine learning and rule-based methods to extract information from the RCT abstracts, including free-text descriptions of trial PICO (populations, interventions/comparators, and outcomes) elements and map these snippets to normalized MeSH (Medical Subject Headings) vocabulary terms. We additionally identify sample sizes, predict the risk of bias, and extract text conveying key findings. We store all extracted data in a database, which we make freely available for download, and via a search portal, which allows users to enter structured clinical queries. Results are ranked automatically to prioritize larger and higher-quality studies.

RESULTS : As of early June 2020, we have indexed 673 191 publications of RCTs, of which 22 363 were published in the first 5 months of 2020 (142 per day). We additionally include 304 111 trial registrations from the International Clinical Trials Registry Platform. The median trial sample size was 66.

CONCLUSIONS : We present an automated system for finding and categorizing RCTs. This yields a novel resource: a database of structured information automatically extracted for all published RCTs in humans. We make daily updates of this database available on our website (

Marshall Iain J, Nye Benjamin, Kuiper Joël, Noel-Storr Anna, Marshall Rachel, Maclean Rory, Soboczenski Frank, Nenkova Ani, Thomas James, Wallace Byron C


automatic database curation, evidence based medicine, randomized controlled trials, research synthesis