Design effects for sample size computation in three-level designs

Stat Methods Med Res. 2016 Apr;25(2):505-19. doi: 10.1177/0962280212460443. Epub 2012 Oct 14.


Experiments with multiple nested levels where randomization can take place at any level bring challenges to the computation of sample sizes. Formulas derived under simple single-level experiments must be adjusted using multiplicative factors or design effects. In this work, we take a unified approach to finding the design effects in terms of intracluster correlations and present formulas to compute sample sizes of different levels. Equal cluster sample sizes and homogeneous within cluster variances are assumed.

Keywords: Sample size; design effects; three-level design.

MeSH terms

  • Alcoholism / therapy
  • Chronic Disease / prevention & control
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Exercise
  • Germany
  • Health Promotion
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Sample Size*
  • Spain
  • Virginia