Better conduct of clinical trials: the control group in critical care trials

Takala, Jukka (2009). Better conduct of clinical trials: the control group in critical care trials. Critical care medicine, 37(1 Suppl), S80-90. Baltimore, Md.: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins 10.1097/CCM.0b013e3181922bf4

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OBJECTIVE: To review trial design issues related to control groups. DESIGN: Review of the literature with specific reference to critical care trials. MAIN RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS: Performing randomized controlled trials in the critical care setting presents specific problems: studies include patients with rapidly lethal conditions, the majority of intensive care patients suffer from syndromes rather than from well-definable diseases, the severity of such syndromes cannot be precisely assessed, and the treatment consists of interacting therapies. Interactions between physiology, pathophysiology, and therapies are at best marginally understood and may have a major impact on study design and interpretation of results. Selection of the right control group is crucial for the interpretation and clinical implementation of results. Studies comparing new interventions with current ones or different levels of current treatments have the problem of the necessity of defining "usual care." Usual care controls without any constraints typically include substantial heterogeneity. Constraints in the usual therapy may help to reduce some variation. Inclusion of unrestricted usual care groups may help to enhance safety. Practice misalignment is a novel problem in which patients receive a treatment that is the direct opposite of usual care, and occurs when fixed-dose interventions are used in situations where care is normally titrated. Practice misalignment should be considered in the design and interpretation of studies on titrated therapies.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Intensive Care, Emergency Medicine and Anaesthesiology (DINA) > Clinic of Intensive Care

UniBE Contributor:

Takala, Jukka




Lippincott Williams & Wilkins




Factscience Import

Date Deposited:

04 Oct 2013 15:13

Last Modified:

06 Dec 2013 13:59

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URI: (FactScience: 197249)

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