Publications by authors named "Duncan T Wilson"

4 Publications

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A hypothesis test of feasibility for external pilot trials assessing recruitment, follow-up, and adherence rates.

Stat Med 2021 Jun 14. Epub 2021 Jun 14.

Leeds Institute of Clinical Trials Research, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK.

The power of a large clinical trial can be adversely affected by low recruitment, follow-up, and adherence rates. External pilot trials estimate these rates and use them, via prespecified decision rules, to determine if the definitive trial is feasible and should go ahead. There is little methodological research underpinning how these decision rules, or the sample size of the pilot, should be chosen. In this article we propose a hypothesis test of the feasibility of a definitive trial, to be applied to the external pilot data and used to make progression decisions. We quantify feasibility by the power of the planned trial, as a function of recruitment, follow-up, and adherence rates. We use this measure to define hypotheses to test in the pilot, propose a test statistic, and show how the error rates of this test can be calculated for the common scenario of a two-arm parallel group definitive trial with a single normally distributed primary endpoint. We use our method to redesign TIGA-CUB, an external pilot trial comparing a psychotherapy with treatment as usual for children with conduct disorders. We then extend our formulation to include using the pilot data to estimate the standard deviation of the primary endpoint and incorporate this into the progression decision.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/sim.9091DOI Listing
June 2021

Bayesian design and analysis of external pilot trials for complex interventions.

Stat Med 2021 05 17;40(12):2877-2892. Epub 2021 Mar 17.

Clinical Trials Research Unit, Leeds Institute of Clinical Trials Research, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK.

External pilot trials of complex interventions are used to help determine if and how a confirmatory trial should be undertaken, providing estimates of parameters such as recruitment, retention, and adherence rates. The decision to progress to the confirmatory trial is typically made by comparing these estimates to pre-specified thresholds known as progression criteria, although the statistical properties of such decision rules are rarely assessed. Such assessment is complicated by several methodological challenges, including the simultaneous evaluation of multiple endpoints, complex multi-level models, small sample sizes, and uncertainty in nuisance parameters. In response to these challenges, we describe a Bayesian approach to the design and analysis of external pilot trials. We show how progression decisions can be made by minimizing the expected value of a loss function, defined over the whole parameter space to allow for preferences and trade-offs between multiple parameters to be articulated and used in the decision-making process. The assessment of preferences is kept feasible by using a piecewise constant parametrization of the loss function, the parameters of which are chosen at the design stage to lead to desirable operating characteristics. We describe a flexible, yet computationally intensive, nested Monte Carlo algorithm for estimating operating characteristics. The method is used to revisit the design of an external pilot trial of a complex intervention designed to increase the physical activity of care home residents.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/sim.8941DOI Listing
May 2021

Efficient and flexible simulation-based sample size determination for clinical trials with multiple design parameters.

Stat Methods Med Res 2021 Mar 2;30(3):799-815. Epub 2020 Dec 2.

Leeds Institute of Clinical Trials Research, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK.

Simulation offers a simple and flexible way to estimate the power of a clinical trial when analytic formulae are not available. The computational burden of using simulation has, however, restricted its application to only the simplest of sample size determination problems, often minimising a single parameter (the overall sample size) subject to power being above a target level. We describe a general framework for solving simulation-based sample size determination problems with several design parameters over which to optimise and several conflicting criteria to be minimised. The method is based on an established global optimisation algorithm widely used in the design and analysis of computer experiments, using a non-parametric regression model as an approximation of the true underlying power function. The method is flexible, can be used for almost any problem for which power can be estimated using simulation, and can be implemented using existing statistical software packages. We illustrate its application to a sample size determination problem involving complex clustering structures, two primary endpoints and small sample considerations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0962280220975790DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8008419PMC
March 2021

Statistical challenges in assessing potential efficacy of complex interventions in pilot or feasibility studies.

Stat Methods Med Res 2016 06 12;25(3):997-1009. Epub 2015 Jun 12.

Clinical Trials Research Unit, Leeds Institute of Clinical Trials Research, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK.

Early phase trials of complex interventions currently focus on assessing the feasibility of a large randomised control trial and on conducting pilot work. Assessing the efficacy of the proposed intervention is generally discouraged, due to concerns of underpowered hypothesis testing. In contrast, early assessment of efficacy is common for drug therapies, where phase II trials are often used as a screening mechanism to identify promising treatments. In this paper, we outline the challenges encountered in extending ideas developed in the phase II drug trial literature to the complex intervention setting. The prevalence of multiple endpoints and clustering of outcome data are identified as important considerations, having implications for timely and robust determination of optimal trial design parameters. The potential for Bayesian methods to help to identify robust trial designs and optimal decision rules is also explored.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0962280215589507DOI Listing
June 2016