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Conservative Sample Size Determination for Repeated Measures Analysis of Covariance.


ABSTRACT: In the design of a randomized clinical trial with one pre and multiple post randomized assessments of the outcome variable, one needs to account for the repeated measures in determining the appropriate sample size. Unfortunately, one seldom has a good estimate of the variance of the outcome measure, let alone the correlations among the measurements over time. We show how sample sizes can be calculated by making conservative assumptions regarding the correlations for a variety of covariance structures. The most conservative choice for the correlation depends on the covariance structure and the number of repeated measures. In the absence of good estimates of the correlations, the sample size is often based on a two-sample t-test, making the 'ultra' conservative and unrealistic assumption that there are zero correlations between the baseline and follow-up measures while at the same time assuming there are perfect correlations between the follow-up measures. Compared to the case of taking a single measurement, substantial savings in sample size can be realized by accounting for the repeated measures, even with very conservative assumptions regarding the parameters of the assumed correlation matrix. Assuming compound symmetry, the sample size from the two-sample t-test calculation can be reduced at least 44%, 56%, and 61% for repeated measures analysis of covariance by taking 2, 3, and 4 follow-up measures, respectively. The results offer a rational basis for determining a fairly conservative, yet efficient, sample size for clinical trials with repeated measures and a baseline value.

SUBMITTER: Morgan TM 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC4100335 | BioStudies | 2013-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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