Bayesian doubly optimal group sequential designs for randomized clinical trials

Jay Kyle Wathen, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


When conducting a randomized comparative clinical trial, ethical, scientific or economic considerations often motivate the use of interim decision rules after successive groups of patients have been treated. These decisions may pertain to the comparative efficacy or safety of the treatments under study, cost considerations, the desire to accelerate the drug evaluation process, or the likelihood of therapeutic benefit for future patients. At the time of each interim decision, an important question is whether patient enrollment should continue or be terminated; either due to a high probability that one treatment is superior to the other, or a low probability that the experimental treatment will ultimately prove to be superior. The use of frequentist group sequential decision rules has become routine in the conduct of phase III clinical trials. In this dissertation, we will present a new Bayesian decision-theoretic approach to the problem of designing a randomized group sequential clinical trial, focusing on two-arm trials with time-to-failure outcomes. Forward simulation is used to obtain optimal decision boundaries for each of a set of possible models. At each interim analysis, we use Bayesian model selection to adaptively choose the model having the largest posterior probability of being correct, and we then make the interim decision based on the boundaries that are optimal under the chosen model. We provide a simulation study to compare this method, which we call Bayesian Doubly Optimal Group Sequential (BDOGS), to corresponding frequentist designs using either O'Brien-Fleming (OF) or Pocock boundaries, as obtained from EaSt 2000. Our simulation results show that, over a wide variety of different cases, BDOGS either performs at least as well as both OF and Pocock, or on average provides a much smaller trial.

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Recommended Citation

Wathen, Jay Kyle, "Bayesian doubly optimal group sequential designs for randomized clinical trials" (2005). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3168450.