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Joint monitoring and prediction of accrual and event times in clinical trials


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In many clinical trials, the primary endpoint is time to an event of interest, for example, time to cardiac attack or tumor progression, and the statistical power of these trials is primarily driven by the number of events observed during the trials. In such trials, the number of events observed is impacted not only by the number of subjects enrolled but also by other factors including the event rate and the follow-up duration. Consequently, it is important for investigators to be able to monitor and predict accurately patient accrual and event times so as to predict the times of interim and final analyses and enable efficient allocation of research resources, which have long been recognized as important aspects of trial design and conduct. The existing methods for prediction of event times all assume that patient accrual follows a Poisson process with a constant Poisson rate over time; however, it is fairly common in real-life clinical trials that the Poisson rate changes over time. In this paper, we propose a Bayesian joint modeling approach for monitoring and prediction of accrual and event times in clinical trials. We employ a nonhomogeneous Poisson process to model patient accrual and a parametric or nonparametric model for the event and loss to follow-up processes. Compared to existing methods, our proposed methods are more flexible and robust in that we model accrual and event/loss-to-follow-up times jointly and allow the underlying accrual rates to change over time. We evaluate the performance of the proposed methods through simulation studies and illustrate the methods using data from a real oncology trial.