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Review of group-based cancer trials reveals flaws in studies' design and analysis
Date:3/25/2008

ng to do is simply raise the awareness of the research community that you need to attend to these special problems that we have with this kind of design.

The use of inappropriate analysis methods is not considered willful or in any way designed to skew results of a trial, Murray noted.

Ive seen creative reasons people give in their papers for using the methods they use, but Ive never seen anybody say it was done to get a more significant effect. But thats what can happen if you use the wrong methods and thats the danger, he said. What we want to know from a trial is what really happened. If an intervention doesnt work, we need to know that, too, so we can try something else.

The review also is not an indictment of the study design. Murray is a proponent of such trials and was the first U.S. expert to author a textbook on the subject (Design and Analysis of Group-Randomized Trials, Oxford University Press, 1998).

He also is a co-investigator on three group-randomized trials in progress at Ohio State. Two trials use specific clinics as the assigned groups. One is analyzing the effectiveness of having specially trained guides help cancer patients negotiate the health-care system. The second is investigating the effectiveness of aggressive physician promotion of colorectal cancer screening for patients with cancer risk factors. A third trial will use Appalachian counties as groups to compare the effectiveness of a media campaign to promote colorectal cancer screenings.

Were not trying to discourage people from using this design. It remains the best design available if you have an intervention that cant be studied at the individual level, Murray said.


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Contact: David Murray
dmurray@cph.osu.edu
614-293-2928
Ohio State University
Source:Eurekalert

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