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Bias due to lack of patient blinding in clinical trials. A systematic review of trials randomizing patients to blind and nonblind sub-studies

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@article{b6142efd73f348659d5cc7b803ad2e43,
title = "Bias due to lack of patient blinding in clinical trials. A systematic review of trials randomizing patients to blind and nonblind sub-studies",
abstract = "BACKGROUND: Blinding patients in clinical trials is a key methodological procedure, but the expected degree of bias due to nonblinded patients on estimated treatment effects is unknown.METHODS: Systematic review of randomized clinical trials with one sub-study (i.e. experimental vs control) involving blinded patients and another, otherwise identical, sub-study involving nonblinded patients. Within each trial, we compared the difference in effect sizes (i.e. standardized mean differences) between the sub-studies. A difference <0 indicates that nonblinded patients generated a more optimistic effect estimate. We pooled the differences with random-effects inverse variance meta-analysis, and explored reasons for heterogeneity.RESULTS: Our main analysis included 12 trials (3869 patients). The average difference in effect size for patient-reported outcomes was -0.56 (95% confidence interval -0.71 to -0.41), (I(2)=60%, P=0.004), i.e. nonblinded patients exaggerated the effect size by an average of 0.56 standard deviation, but with considerable variation. Two of the 12 trials also used observer-reported outcomes, showing no indication of exaggerated effects due lack of patient blinding. There was a larger effect size difference in 10 acupuncture trials [-0.63 (-0.77 to -0.49)], than in the two non-acupuncture trials [-0.17 (-0.41 to 0.07)]. Lack of patient blinding also increased attrition and use of co-interventions: ratio of control group attrition risk 1.79 (1.18 to 2.70), and ratio of control group co-intervention risk 1.55 (0.99 to 2.43).CONCLUSIONS: This study provides empirical evidence of pronounced bias due to lack of patient blinding in complementary/alternative randomized clinical trials with patient-reported outcomes.",
author = "Asbj{\o}rn Hr{\'o}bjartsson and Frida Emanuelsson and {Skou Thomsen}, {Ann Sofia} and J{\o}rgen Hilden and Stig Brorson",
note = "{\textcopyright} The Author 2014; all rights reserved. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the International Epidemiological Association.",
year = "2014",
month = aug,
doi = "10.1093/ije/dyu115",
language = "English",
volume = "43",
pages = "1272--83",
journal = "International Journal of Epidemiology",
issn = "0300-5771",
publisher = "Oxford University Press",
number = "4",

}

RIS

TY - JOUR

T1 - Bias due to lack of patient blinding in clinical trials. A systematic review of trials randomizing patients to blind and nonblind sub-studies

AU - Hróbjartsson, Asbjørn

AU - Emanuelsson, Frida

AU - Skou Thomsen, Ann Sofia

AU - Hilden, Jørgen

AU - Brorson, Stig

N1 - © The Author 2014; all rights reserved. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the International Epidemiological Association.

PY - 2014/8

Y1 - 2014/8

N2 - BACKGROUND: Blinding patients in clinical trials is a key methodological procedure, but the expected degree of bias due to nonblinded patients on estimated treatment effects is unknown.METHODS: Systematic review of randomized clinical trials with one sub-study (i.e. experimental vs control) involving blinded patients and another, otherwise identical, sub-study involving nonblinded patients. Within each trial, we compared the difference in effect sizes (i.e. standardized mean differences) between the sub-studies. A difference <0 indicates that nonblinded patients generated a more optimistic effect estimate. We pooled the differences with random-effects inverse variance meta-analysis, and explored reasons for heterogeneity.RESULTS: Our main analysis included 12 trials (3869 patients). The average difference in effect size for patient-reported outcomes was -0.56 (95% confidence interval -0.71 to -0.41), (I(2)=60%, P=0.004), i.e. nonblinded patients exaggerated the effect size by an average of 0.56 standard deviation, but with considerable variation. Two of the 12 trials also used observer-reported outcomes, showing no indication of exaggerated effects due lack of patient blinding. There was a larger effect size difference in 10 acupuncture trials [-0.63 (-0.77 to -0.49)], than in the two non-acupuncture trials [-0.17 (-0.41 to 0.07)]. Lack of patient blinding also increased attrition and use of co-interventions: ratio of control group attrition risk 1.79 (1.18 to 2.70), and ratio of control group co-intervention risk 1.55 (0.99 to 2.43).CONCLUSIONS: This study provides empirical evidence of pronounced bias due to lack of patient blinding in complementary/alternative randomized clinical trials with patient-reported outcomes.

AB - BACKGROUND: Blinding patients in clinical trials is a key methodological procedure, but the expected degree of bias due to nonblinded patients on estimated treatment effects is unknown.METHODS: Systematic review of randomized clinical trials with one sub-study (i.e. experimental vs control) involving blinded patients and another, otherwise identical, sub-study involving nonblinded patients. Within each trial, we compared the difference in effect sizes (i.e. standardized mean differences) between the sub-studies. A difference <0 indicates that nonblinded patients generated a more optimistic effect estimate. We pooled the differences with random-effects inverse variance meta-analysis, and explored reasons for heterogeneity.RESULTS: Our main analysis included 12 trials (3869 patients). The average difference in effect size for patient-reported outcomes was -0.56 (95% confidence interval -0.71 to -0.41), (I(2)=60%, P=0.004), i.e. nonblinded patients exaggerated the effect size by an average of 0.56 standard deviation, but with considerable variation. Two of the 12 trials also used observer-reported outcomes, showing no indication of exaggerated effects due lack of patient blinding. There was a larger effect size difference in 10 acupuncture trials [-0.63 (-0.77 to -0.49)], than in the two non-acupuncture trials [-0.17 (-0.41 to 0.07)]. Lack of patient blinding also increased attrition and use of co-interventions: ratio of control group attrition risk 1.79 (1.18 to 2.70), and ratio of control group co-intervention risk 1.55 (0.99 to 2.43).CONCLUSIONS: This study provides empirical evidence of pronounced bias due to lack of patient blinding in complementary/alternative randomized clinical trials with patient-reported outcomes.

U2 - 10.1093/ije/dyu115

DO - 10.1093/ije/dyu115

M3 - Journal article

C2 - 24881045

VL - 43

SP - 1272

EP - 1283

JO - International Journal of Epidemiology

JF - International Journal of Epidemiology

SN - 0300-5771

IS - 4

ER -

ID: 44633817