Transcendental meditation paper pulled minutes before publication appears in a new journal

In June of last year, the Archives of Internal Medicine yanked a paper just 12 minutes before it was scheduled to publish, to

…allow time for review and statistical analysis of additional data not included in the original paper that the authors provided less than 24 hours before posting…

A year later, the lead author told us the paper was still under review. Now, as Larry Husten of CardioBrief reports today, it has finally been published — but in a different journal altogether:

Now a new version of the paper has been published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality & Outcomes. The first author is Robert Schneider, from the Institute for Natural Medicine and Prevention at Maharishi University of Management in Maharishi Vedic City, Iowa. The co-authors are from the same institution and from the department of medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Wisconin. It is clearly the same study of 201 African American patients randomized to TM or health education (HE) and followed for 5.4 years, though some of the numbers have changed in important ways between the earlier and later publications. Without full access to the earlier paper it is impossible to make a detailed comparison, but one change is quite glaring: The new paper in Circ:CVQ&O reports that  52 primary endpoint events (the composite of death, MI, or stroke). Of these, 20 events occurred in the TM group and 32 in the HE group. By contrast, in the previous Archives version there were 12 fewer, or 40, primary endpoint events: 17 in the TM group and 23 in the control group.

Husten has lots more detail over at his post, so head over there and check it out. One comment from Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality & Outcomes Harlan Krumholz in particular stood out for us:

We had no prior knowledge of what transpired with the Archives of Internal Medicine.

That suggests Krumholz hasn’t read Retraction Watch – sniff! — or CardioBrief — which seems unlikely. All kidding aside, we wonder if it would help for authors to share previous reviews and rejections with the next journals where they submit. Is this a job for Rubriq, a service we heard about recently?

And does this count as a retraction from the Archives of Internal Medicine, if it was accepted, press-released, and then yanked only 12 minutes from being published?

The latter is probably more rhetorical than anything else, since there’s no official citation. But still.

12 thoughts on “Transcendental meditation paper pulled minutes before publication appears in a new journal”

  1. Ouch. Initial registration on 2011-02-18 & revised on 2011-02-23:

    Some changes are um, interesting. 5 days earlier it was a 2 phase study? It changed from a single blind to a double blind design – after it was completed – huh? Between this and post hoc registration I’m dizzy.

    Just *love* this bit they deleted “To properly learn this technique in the basic 7 step course, a certified TM teacher is required.”

    NCCAM strikes again.

  2. According to the published paper, for people who got the intervention, “During an average follow-up of 5.4 years, there was a 48% risk reduction in the primary end point in the TM group (hazard ratio, 0.52; 95% confidence interval, 0.29–0.92; P=0.025). The TM group also showed a 24% risk reduction in the secondary end point (hazard ratio, 0.76; 95% confidence interval, 0.51–0.1.13; P=0.17). There were reductions of 4.9 mm Hg in systolic blood pressure (95% confidence interval −8.3 to –1.5 mm Hg; P=0.01) and anger expression (P<0.05 for all scales)."

    Too good to be true! Especially given that the sample size was only 200….

  3. I was browsing the previous post and read a comment by Sudarsha – who was the Mahesh’s secretary. Is this the same Mahesh Yogi who used to be in the Netherlands?

    TM research though approved by NCCAM is very hard to prove scientifically. There is another person in India campaigning in MD Anderson about Yoga Therapy – Dr. Nagendra from Bangalore, India. Any one heard of him? He claims that he is also the a faculty at Hindu University of America, Orlando, USA .

  4. Rubriq is currently being developed as an independent, standardized peer review platform where authors can share Rubriq reviews with multiple journals, but we have discussed the need for the industry to be able to share journal reviews between journals as well.

    Since Rubriq isn’t affiliated with any one publisher, we could be the right place to start. It is certainly within our mission of putting time back into research.

    I’ll add this to our beta test plan as we start to talk with Editors, since we would need to understand the likelihood of acceptance of those kinds of reviews. In past experiments on portable reviews, the challenge was journals not wanting to share reviewer identification. Competing journal are protective of their reviewers, but that information is an important part of the decision process. This is one of the problems Rubriq aims to solve.

    We will definitely look into this as a service Rubriq can provide. Thanks for the suggestion!

  5. By the way, the paper eventually made the journal’s “Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes Editors’ Picks: Most Important Articles Published in 2012” list, and not one of the people criticizing it around the internet apparently cared enough to submit a Letter to the Editor with their criticisms.

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