TI Methods Speaker Series: What is your question? Causal and predictive purposes of clinical trials and the implications for analysis

TI Methods Speaker Series: What is your question? Causal and predictive purposes of clinical trials and the implications for analysis

There are many questions one might ask of a clinical trial, ranging from what was the effect in the patients studied to what might the effect be in future patients via what was the effect in individual patients? The extent to which the answer to these questions is similar depends on various assumptions made and in some cases the design used may not permit any meaningful  answer to be given at all. A related issue is confusion between randomisation, random sampling, linear model and true multivariate based modelling. These distinctions don’t matter much for some purposes and under some circumstances but for others they do. A yet further  issue is that causal analysis in epidemiology, which has brought valuable insights in many cases, has tended to stress point estimates and ignore standard errors. This has potentially misleading consequences. An understanding of components of variation is key. Unfortunately, the development of two particular topics in recent years, evidence synthesis by the evidence based medicine movement and personalised medicine by bench scientists has either paid scant attention to components of variation or to the questions being asked or both resulting in confusion about many issues. For instance, it is often claimed that numbers needed to treat indicate the proportion of patients for whom treatments work, that inclusion criteria determine the generalisability of results and that heterogeneity means that a random effects meta-analysis is required. None of these is true. The scope for personalised medicine has very plausibly been exaggerated and an important cause of variation in the healthcare system, physicians, is often overlooked. In this webinar, Prof. Stephen Senn argued that thinking about questions is important. Download the slides. 


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WHEN: Wednesday, September 29th, 2021 from 12:00 to 1:00 PM PDT [click here to convert to your local time]

WHERE: Offered online using the Zoom platform.

TITLE: What is your question? Causal and predictive purposes of clinical trials and the implications for analysis

SPEAKER: Prof. Stephen Senn, PhD, FRSE, CStat, Consultant Statistician, Edinburgh, UK.


About the speaker: Prof. Stephen Senn has worked as a statistician but also as an academic in various positions in Switzerland, Scotland, England and Luxembourg. From 2011-2018 he was head of the Competence Center for Methodology and Statistics at the Luxembourg Institute of Health. He is the author of Cross-over Trials in Clinical Research (1993, 2002), Statistical Issues in Drug Development (1997, 2007, 2021), Dicing with Death (2003). In 2009 was awarded the Bradford Hill Medal of the Royal Statistical Society. In 2017 he gave the Fisher Memorial Lecture. He is an honorary life member of PSI and ISCB. Twitter: @stephensenn

About the TI Methods Speaker Series: The TI Methods Speaker Series are offered free of charge and everyone is welcome. The event is held at noon on the last Wednesday of each month. During the COVID-19 pandemic, while physical distancing measures are in effect, the TI Methods Speaker Series are offered via videoconference. The presentations are recorded and the video recordings are posted online. Click here to view the scheduled topics for 2021 and click here to view a list of TI Methods Speaker Series talks offered in 2020.

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