Application of statistical decision theory to treatment choices: implications for the design and analysis of clinical trials.

Statistics in Medicine (Impact Factor: 2.04). 09/1986; 5(5):411-20. DOI: 10.1002/sim.4780050505
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT This paper explores the application of statistical decision theory to treatment choices in cancer which involve difficult value judgements in weighing beneficial and deleterious outcomes of treatment. Strengths and weaknesses of using decision theory are illustrated by considering the problem of selecting chemotherapy in advanced ovarian cancer. The paper includes an assessment of individual preferences in 27 volunteers and a discussion of some problems in utility assessment. An alternative approach, using threshold analysis, is presented in which the results of the decision analysis are expressed as a function of utility parameters. By knowing what sets of utilities favour each treatment, the assessment of patient preferences can then be focused on important differences of treatment options. The implications of these results for the design and analysis of clinical trials are discussed.

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