Methods for modelling change in cluster randomization trials

Stat Med. 2004 Aug 15;23(15):2341-57. doi: 10.1002/sim.1858.


Randomized trials are often designed to assess an intervention's ability to change patient knowledge, behaviour or health. The study outcome will then need to be measured at least twice for each subject--prior to random assignment and following implementation of the intervention. In this paper we consider methods for modelling change when data are obtained from cluster randomization trials where the unit of allocation is a family, school or community. Attention focuses on mixed effects linear regression extensions of (i) two-sample t-tests and (ii) analysis of covariance, in both cases accounting for dependencies among cluster members. Algebraic expressions for tests of the intervention effect are derived for the special case where there are a fixed number of subjects per cluster while simulation studies are used to compare the power of these procedures in the more realistic case where there is variability in cluster size. A key conclusion is that there can be considerable gains in power when allowing for different individual-level and cluster-level associations between the baseline and follow-up assessments. The discussion is illustrated using data from a school-based smoking prevention trial.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Canada
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Models, Statistical
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic*