Bayesian Versus Frequentist Clinical Trials

Authored by: Cecilia Nardini

The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Medicine

Print publication date:  October  2016
Online publication date:  October  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138846791
eBook ISBN: 9781315720739
Adobe ISBN: 9781317519850


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Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) currently represent the gold standard within evidence-based medicine for the evaluation and approval of new therapeutics. RCTs are experiments in which we test the efficacy of an intervention with respect to a control by comparing their performance in two separate groups of patients. In the typical procedure, patients are assigned to either the experimental or the control group. Patients in the first group receive the new treatment that is being tested, while patients in the control group receive a treatment that constitutes the benchmark for the evaluation of the newly proposed alternative—this can be either no therapy or the standard therapy for the condition under study. In order to avoid bias, allocation to the two groups is random, and the investigators and treating physicians are generally masked to group allocation.

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