An overview of methodological considerations regarding adaptive stopping, arm dropping and randomisation in clinical trials

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OBJECTIVE: Adaptive features may increase flexibility and efficiency of clinical trials, and improve participants' chances of being allocated to better interventions. Our objective is to provide thorough guidance on key methodological considerations for adaptive clinical trials.

STUDY DESIGN AND SETTING: We provide an overview of key methodological considerations for clinical trials employing adaptive stopping, adaptive arm dropping, and response-adaptive randomisation. We cover pros and cons of different decisions and provide guidance on using simulation to compare different adaptive trial designs. We focus on Bayesian multi-arm adaptive trials, although the same general considerations apply to frequentist adaptive trials.

RESULTS: We provide guidance on: 1) interventions and possible common control, 2) outcome selection, follow-up duration and model choice, 3) timing of adaptive analyses, 4) decision rules for adaptive stopping and arm dropping, 5) randomisation strategies, 6) performance metrics, their prioritisation, and arm selection strategies, and 7) simulations, assessment of performance under different scenarios, and reporting. Finally, we provide an example using a newly developed R simulation engine that may be used to evaluate and compare different adaptive trial designs.

CONCLUSION: This overview may help trialists design better and more transparent adaptive clinical trials and to adequately compare them before initiation.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Clinical Epidemiology
Pages (from-to)45-54
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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Copyright © 2022 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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