• Contrast test;
  • Dose finding;
  • Minimum effective dose;
  • Multiple testing

Summary The analysis of data from dose-response studies has long been divided according to two major strategies: multiple comparison procedures and model-based approaches. Model-based approaches assume a functional relationship between the response and the dose, taken as a quantitative factor, according to a prespecified parametric model. The fitted model is then used to estimate an adequate dose to achieve a desired response but the validity of its conclusions will highly depend on the correct choice of the a priori unknown dose-response model. Multiple comparison procedures regard the dose as a qualitative factor and make very few, if any, assumptions about the underlying dose-response model. The primary goal is often to identify the minimum effective dose that is statistically significant and produces a relevant biological effect. One approach is to evaluate the significance of contrasts between different dose levels, while preserving the family-wise error rate. Such procedures are relatively robust but inference is confined to the selection of the target dose among the dose levels under investigation. We describe a unified strategy to the analysis of data from dose-response studies which combines multiple comparison and modeling techniques. We assume the existence of several candidate parametric models and use multiple comparison techniques to choose the one most likely to represent the true underlying dose-response curve, while preserving the family-wise error rate. The selected model is then used to provide inference on adequate doses.