The paired availability design: A proposal for evaluating epidural analgesia during labor


  • Stuart G. Baker,

    1. Biometry Branch, Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, National Cancer Institute, EPN 344, 9000 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD 20892, U.S.A.
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  • Karen S. Lindeman

    1. Division of Obstetric Anesthesia, Department of Anesthesiology/Critical Care Medicine, Meyer 295, The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, 600 North Wolfe Street, Baltimore, MD 21287-7244, U.S.A.
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The paired availability design (PAD) can reduce selection bias when it is not possible to randomize subjects. PAD consists of independent pairs of experimental and control groups. Within each pair, the intervention is the availability of treatment not its receipt. In the experimental group, the new treatment is made available to all subjects although some may not receive it. In the control group, the experimental treatment is generally not available to subjects although some may receive it in special circumstances. We present a statistic to test a null hypothesis that the receipt of intervention will increase response by a specified non-zero amount δ. We propose this design for use in a study of the effect of epidural analgesia on the rate of Caesarean section.