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October 2021

Randomized clinical trials - perspectives on some recent ideas

Author(s): Simon, R., Friedewald, W., Schlesselman, J., DeMets, D., Ellenberg, J., Gail, M., Ware, J.

Journal/Book: The New England Journal of Medicine. 1976; 295: 74-80.

Abstract: In spite of the controversy over the role of randomized clinical trials in medical research, the rationale underlying such trials remains persuasive as compared to recent suggestions for alternative nonrandomized studies such as those relying an the use of historical controls and adjustment technics. Others have suggested that recent statistical innovations for improving clinical trials, including adaptive allocation of treatment to patients and sequential stopping procedures, are underutilized. These innovations, though theoretically interesting, are not easily adapted to large-scale, complex medical trials in which there may be multiple end points and delayed response times. Ethical considerations suggest that randomized trials are more suitable than uncontrolled experimentation in protecting the interests of patients. Randomized clinical trials remain the most reliable method for evaluating the efficacy of therapies.


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