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Bayesian methods including nonrandomized study data increased the efficiency of postlaunch RCTs

Amand F Schmidt, Irene Klugkist, Olaf H Klungel, Mirjam Nielen, Anthonius de Boer, Arno W Hoes, Rolf H H Groenwold
Journal of Clinical Epidemiology 2015, 68 (4): 387-96
25554520

OBJECTIVES: Findings from nonrandomized studies on safety or efficacy of treatment in patient subgroups may trigger postlaunch randomized clinical trials (RCTs). In the analysis of such RCTs, results from nonrandomized studies are typically ignored. This study explores the trade-off between bias and power of Bayesian RCT analysis incorporating information from nonrandomized studies.

STUDY DESIGN AND SETTING: A simulation study was conducted to compare frequentist with Bayesian analyses using noninformative and informative priors in their ability to detect interaction effects. In simulated subgroups, the effect of a hypothetical treatment differed between subgroups (odds ratio 1.00 vs. 2.33). Simulations varied in sample size, proportions of the subgroups, and specification of the priors.

RESULTS: As expected, the results for the informative Bayesian analyses were more biased than those from the noninformative Bayesian analysis or frequentist analysis. However, because of a reduction in posterior variance, informative Bayesian analyses were generally more powerful to detect an effect. In scenarios where the informative priors were in the opposite direction of the RCT data, type 1 error rates could be 100% and power 0%.

CONCLUSION: Bayesian methods incorporating data from nonrandomized studies can meaningfully increase power of interaction tests in postlaunch RCTs.

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