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Independence estimators for re-randomisation trials in multi-episode settings: a simulation study

Kahan, BC; White, IR; Eldridge, S; Hooper, R; (2021) Independence estimators for re-randomisation trials in multi-episode settings: a simulation study. BMC Medical Research Methodology , 21 , Article 235. 10.1186/s12874-021-01433-4. Green open access

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: Re-randomisation trials involve re-enrolling and re-randomising patients for each new treatment episode they experience. They are often used when interest lies in the average effect of an intervention across all the episodes for which it would be used in practice. Re-randomisation trials are often analysed using independence estimators, where a working independence correlation structure is used. However, research into independence estimators in the context of re-randomisation has been limited. METHODS: We performed a simulation study to evaluate the use of independence estimators in re-randomisation trials. We focussed on a continuous outcome, and the setting where treatment allocation does not affect occurrence of subsequent episodes. We evaluated different treatment effect mechanisms (e.g. by allowing the treatment effect to vary across episodes, or to become less effective on re-use, etc), and different non-enrolment mechanisms (e.g. where patients who experience a poor outcome are less likely to re-enrol for their second episode). We evaluated four different independence estimators, each corresponding to a different estimand (per-episode and per-patient approaches, and added-benefit and policy-benefit approaches). RESULTS: We found that independence estimators were unbiased for the per-episode added-benefit estimand in all scenarios we considered. We found independence estimators targeting other estimands (per-patient or policy-benefit) were unbiased, except when there was differential non-enrolment between treatment groups (i.e. when different types of patients from each treatment group decide to re-enrol for subsequent episodes). We found the use of robust standard errors provided close to nominal coverage in all settings where the estimator was unbiased. CONCLUSIONS: Careful choice of estimand can ensure re-randomisation trials are addressing clinically relevant questions. Independence estimators are a useful approach, and should be considered as the default estimator until the statistical properties of alternative estimators are thoroughly evaluated.

Type: Article
Title: Independence estimators for re-randomisation trials in multi-episode settings: a simulation study
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1186/s12874-021-01433-4
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12874-021-01433-4
Language: English
Additional information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.
Keywords: Re-randomisation, Re-randomisation trials, Independence estimators, Simulation study, Estimands
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Inst of Clinical Trials and Methodology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Inst of Clinical Trials and Methodology > MRC Clinical Trials Unit at UCL
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10138639
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