Covariate-adjusted borrowing of historical control data in randomized clinical trials

Pharm Stat. 2017 Jul;16(4):296-308. doi: 10.1002/pst.1815. Epub 2017 May 31.


The borrowing of historical control data can be an efficient way to improve the treatment effect estimate of the current control group in a randomized clinical trial. When the historical and current control data are consistent, the borrowing of historical data can increase power and reduce Type I error rate. However, when these 2 sources of data are inconsistent, it may result in a combination of biased estimates, reduced power, and inflation of Type I error rate. In some situations, inconsistency between historical and current control data may be caused by a systematic variation in the measured baseline prognostic factors, which can be appropriately addressed through statistical modeling. In this paper, we propose a Bayesian hierarchical model that can incorporate patient-level baseline covariates to enhance the appropriateness of the exchangeability assumption between current and historical control data. The performance of the proposed method is shown through simulation studies, and its application to a clinical trial design for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is described. The proposed method is developed for scenarios involving multiple imbalanced prognostic factors and thus has meaningful implications for clinical trials evaluating new treatments for heterogeneous diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Keywords: ALS; Bayesian methods; covariate; hierarchical model; historical control.

MeSH terms

  • Bayes Theorem
  • Control Groups
  • Humans
  • Models, Statistical
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic*