Comparison of Bayesian with group sequential methods for monitoring clinical trials

Laurence S. Freedman, David J. Spiegelhalter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


We describe some problems with applying methods based on classical sequential analysis to monitoring clinical trials. A Bayesian method is developed and the boundaries are compared with frequentist schemes. For the examples chosen, the Bayesian boundaries can be quite similar to those obtained from Pocock and O'Brien and Fleming (OBF) rules, depending on the choice of prior distribution. They converge less rapidly than OBF's but more rapidly than Pocock's. In general the Bayesian methods provide the same desirable features as frequentist methods, without sacrificing flexibility and simplicity of interpretation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)357-367
Number of pages11
JournalControlled Clinical Trials
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1989
Externally publishedYes


  • Bayesian methods
  • Clinical trials
  • sequential methods
  • stopping rules


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