Intended for healthcare professionals

Endgames Statistical Question

Patient preference trials

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 15 June 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d3602
  1. Philip Sedgwick, senior lecturer in medical statistics
  1. 1Section of Medical and Healthcare Education, St George’s, University of London, Tooting, London, UK
  1. p.sedgwick{at}

Researchers compared the efficacy of antidepressant drugs with generic counselling for the treatment of mild to moderate depression in general practice. A randomised controlled trial, with patient preference arms, was conducted. In total, 52 patients were randomised to counselling and 51 to antidepressant drugs, with 140 recruited to the counselling and 80 to the antidepressant preference arms.1

The outcome measures included the Beck depression inventory score at one year follow-up. No differences were reported in Beck scores between the randomised arms or patient preference groups. Patients who chose counselling did better than those who were randomised to it.

Which of the following statements, if any, are true?

  • a) All patients were randomised to a treatment

  • b) Patients could choose which treatment they received

  • c) Systematic differences in baseline characteristics between …

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