The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2288-14-11) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
TPM and BCK had the original idea for the article. TPM drafted the article. IRW added further ideas. All authors read and approved the submitted manuscript.
Sensitivity analyses are an important tool for understanding the extent to which the results of randomised trials depend upon the assumptions of the analysis. There is currently no guidance governing the choice of sensitivity analyses.
We provide a principled approach to choosing sensitivity analyses through the consideration of the following questions: 1) Does the proposed sensitivity analysis address the same question as the primary analysis? 2) Is it possible for the proposed sensitivity analysis to return a different result to the primary analysis? 3) If the results do differ, is there any uncertainty as to which will be believed? Answering all of these questions in the affirmative will help researchers to identify relevant sensitivity analyses. Treating analyses as sensitivity analyses when one or more of the answers are negative can be misleading and confuse the interpretation of studies. The value of these questions is illustrated with several examples.
By removing unreasonable analyses that might have been performed, these questions will lead to relevant sensitivity analyses, which help to assess the robustness of trial results.
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- Choosing sensitivity analyses for randomised trials: principles
Tim P Morris
Brennan C Kahan
Ian R White
- BioMed Central
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