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Random treatment allocation in a clinical trial is unlikely to be harmful
Patients who receive a randomly assigned treatment as part of a randomized controlled trial (RCT) have the same health outcomes as those who receive individualized treatment tailored by their physician, suggests a new study in PLoS Medicine.
The study will be reassuring to those patients and physicians who fear that taking part in an RCT is worse for a patient's health than receiving a treatment based on a physician's personal judgment.
RCTs are considered by physicians as the "gold standard" for telling whether a new treatment works. In an RCT, patients are randomly assigned to receive the new treatment or a "control" (usually the existing standard treatment).
The study's authors, led by Cary Gross at Yale University School of Medicine, examined previous RCTs that included information on the health outcomes of patients who participated in the trials as well as patients who were eligible to participate but who did not in the end take part.
They only considered RCTs where these non-participants had access to exactly the same treatments as those being tested in the RCTs. Unlike the trial participants (who received treatment randomly), these non-participants received individualized treatment recommended by their physician.'"/>