Inability to obtain deferred consent due to early death in emergency research: effect on validity of clinical trial results

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To illustrate the impact on the validity of trial results due to excluding patients from a randomized controlled trial for whom no deferred consent could be obtained after randomization because study procedures had already been finished. The unadjusted and adjusted primary outcome measures of a recent randomized controlled multicentre study in the field of intensive care medicine were compared, including (n = 348) or excluding (n = 289) patients with missing deferred consent. Thirty-nine patients (11%) died early, before the patient or his/her proxy could be approached and consent be obtained. In another 20 patients (6%), it was not possible to inform proxies and ask consent within the period of study procedures. A significant treatment effect (p = 0.006) in the adjusted analysis became non-significant (p = 0.35) when the patients with missing deferred consent were excluded. Exclusion of patients without obtained deferred consent can reduce statistical power, introduce selection bias, make randomization asymmetrical, decrease external validity and thereby jeopardize study results. This may have implications for emergency research in various disciplines.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)1962-1965
Number of pages4
JournalIntensive Care Medicine
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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