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Evaluation of quality of life in a clinical trial with nonrandom dropout: the effect of epoetin alfa in anemic cancer patients.

Author(s): Fairclough DL, Gagnon DD, Zagari MJ, Marschner N, Dicato M, Epoetin Alfa Study Group

Affiliation(s): Colorado Health Outcomes Program and Department of Preventive Medicine and Biometry, University of Colorado, Health Sciences Center, Denver, CO 80210, USA. dianefairclough@earthlink.net

Publication date & source: 2003-12, Qual Life Res., 12(8):1013-27.

Publication type: Clinical Trial; Multicenter Study; Randomized Controlled Trial

Quality of life (QOL) endpoints from a randomized, placebo-controlled trial of anemic cancer patients treated with nonplatinum-containing chemotherapy who received epoetin alfa or placebo were subjected to a sensitivity analysis. Three QOL instruments were used: the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Anemia (FACT-An), the Cancer Linear Analog Scale (CLAS), and the Medical Outcomes Study Short Form-36 (SF-36). The seven primary endpoints chosen a priori for analysis were: the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-General (FACT-G) Total, FACT-An fatigue subscale, CLAS energy, CLAS daily activities, CLAS overall QOL, and the SF-36 physical and mental component summary scales. Lower QOL scores were reported for patients who discontinued early, suggesting a nonrandom dropout process. Significant correlations (ranging from 0.37 to 0.77) between individual rates of change and the time to early termination of therapy or death supported this conclusion. Estimates of within-treatment-arm QOL change over time are more conservative with the missing not at random (MNAR) assumption as compared with the more optimistic estimates with the assumption that missing QOL data are missing at random (MAR). However, the between-treatment-arm comparisons were consistent across analyses, demonstrating statistically significant differences in favor of the epoetin alfa arm for four of the seven outcome measures.

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