Repeated cross-sectional cluster randomization trials are cluster randomization trials in which the response variable is measured on a sample of subjects from each cluster at baseline and on a different sample of subjects from each cluster at follow-up. One can estimate the effect of the intervention on the follow-up response alone, on the follow-up responses after adjusting for baseline responses, or on the change in the follow-up response from the baseline response. We used Monte Carlo simulations to determine the relative statistical power of different methods of analysis. We examined methods of analysis based on generalized estimating equations (GEE) and a random effects model to account for within-cluster homogeneity. We also examined cluster-level analyses that treated the cluster as the unit of analysis. We found that the use of random effects models to estimate the effect of the intervention on the change in the follow-up response from the baseline response had lower statistical power compared to the other competing methods across a wide range of scenarios. The other methods tended to have similar statistical power in many settings. However, in some scenarios, those analyses that adjusted for the baseline response tended to have marginally greater power than did methods that did not account for the baseline response.
Keywords: cluster randomization trials; cluster randomized trials; clustered data; community intervention trials; cross-sectional studies; group randomized trials; simulations; statistical power.