Assessing vaccine efficacy for the prevention of acute otitis media by pneumococcal vaccination in children: a methodological overview of statistical practice in randomized controlled clinical trials

Vaccine. 2007 Aug 14;25(33):6237-44. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2007.05.062. Epub 2007 Jun 18.


Acute otitis media (AOM) is the most common bacterial infectious disease among children. Vaccination is proposed to prevent otitis and several clinical trials were performed to assess the efficacy of pneumococcal vaccines. The way vaccine efficacy is analysed varies among trials. However, the clinical meaning of an estimate of vaccine effect and its statistical test depends on the applied statistical method. We aim to bring the meaning and validity of statistical trial results to the attention of researchers. We consider all methodological approaches for analysing vaccine efficacy applied in pneumococcal vaccination trials included in a recent Cochrane Review. We demonstrate how different methods address different scientific questions on the effect of vaccination, how they can complement each other and why some methods can produce misleading results.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Otitis Media / prevention & control*
  • Pneumococcal Infections / prevention & control*
  • Pneumococcal Vaccines / immunology*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic / standards*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic / statistics & numerical data*
  • Research Design*


  • Pneumococcal Vaccines