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A COMPARISON OF THE IMPRECISE BETA CLASS, THE RANDOMIZED PLAY-THE-WINNER RULE AND THE TRIANGULAR TEST FOR CLINICAL TRIALS WITH BINARY RESPONSES

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Summary

This paper develops clinical trial designs that compare two treatments with a binary outcome. The imprecise beta class (IBC), a class of beta probability distributions, is used in a robust Bayesian framework to calculate posterior upper and lower expectations for treatment success rates using accumulating data. The posterior expectation for the difference in success rates can be used to decide when there is sufficient evidence for randomized treatment allocation to cease. This design is formally related to the randomized play-the-winner (RPW) design, an adaptive allocation scheme where randomization probabilities are updated sequentially to favour the treatment with the higher observed success rate. A connection is also made between the IBC and the sequential clinical trial design based on the triangular test. Theoretical and simulation results are presented to show that the expected sample sizes on the truly inferior arm are lower using the IBC compared with either the triangular test or the RPW design, and that the IBC performs well against established criteria involving error rates and the expected number of treatment failures.
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Keywords: ethics; imprecise probabilities; play-the-winner; randomized controlled trials; robust Bayes; sequential analysis; triangular test

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Leicester

Publication date: March 1, 2007

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