Issues for stratified randomization based on a factor derived from a continuous baseline variable



Stratified randomization based on the baseline value of the primary analysis variable is common in clinical trial design. We illustrate from a theoretical viewpoint the advantage of such a stratified randomization to achieve balance of the baseline covariate. We also conclude that the estimator for the treatment effect is consistent when including both the continuous baseline covariate and the stratification factor derived from the baseline covariate. In addition, the analysis of covariance model including both the continuous covariate and the stratification factor is asymptotically no less efficient than including either only the continuous baseline value or only the stratification factor. We recommend that the continuous baseline covariate should generally be included in the analysis model. The corresponding stratification factor may also be included in the analysis model if one is not confident that the relationship between the baseline covariate and the response variable is linear. In spite of the above recommendation, one should always carefully examine relevant historical data to pre-specify the most appropriate analysis model for a perspective study. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.