Study duration for clinical trials with survival response and early stopping rule

Biometrics. 1990 Mar;46(1):81-92.


A comparative clinical trial with built-in sequential stopping rules allows earlier-than-scheduled stopping, should there be a significant indication of treatment difference. In a clinical trial where the major outcome is time (survival time or response) to a certain event such as failure, the design of the study should determine how long one needs to accrue patients and follow through until there is a sufficient number of events observed during the entire study duration. This paper proposes a unified design procedure for group sequential clinical trials with survival response. The time to event is assumed to be exponentially distributed, but the arguments extend naturally to the proportional hazards model after suitable transformation on the time scale. An example from the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) is given to illustrate how this procedure can be implemented. The same example is used to explore the overall operating characteristics and the robustness of the proposed group sequential design.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Biometry / methods
  • Clinical Trials as Topic / methods*
  • Humans
  • Survival Analysis*
  • Time Factors