Balancing the number and size of sites: an economic approach to the optimal design of cluster samples

Control Clin Trials. 2003 Oct;24(5):544-59. doi: 10.1016/s0197-2456(03)00093-x.


The design of randomized controlled trials entails decisions that have economic as well as statistical implications. In particular, the choice of an individual or cluster randomization design may affect the cost of achieving the desired level of power, other things being equal. Furthermore, if cluster randomization is chosen, the researcher must decide how to balance the number of clusters, or "sites," and the size of each site. This article investigates these interrelated statistical and economic issues. Its principal purpose is to elucidate the statistical and economic trade-offs to assist researchers to employ randomized controlled trials that have desired economic, as well as statistical, properties.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cluster Analysis
  • Models, Economic
  • Models, Statistical*
  • Random Allocation
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic / methods*
  • Research Design*
  • Sample Size