Using re-randomisation designs to increase the efficiency and applicability of retention studies within trials: a case study

Beatriz Goulao* (Corresponding Author), Anne Duncan, Karen Innes, Craig R Ramsay, Brennan C Kahan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Poor retention in randomised trials can lead to serious consequences to their validity. Studies within trials (SWATs) are used to identify the most effective interventions to increase retention. Many interventions could be applied at any follow-up time point, but SWATs commonly assess interventions at a single time point, which can reduce efficiency.

METHODS: The re-randomisation design allows participants to be re-enrolled and re-randomised whenever a new retention opportunity occurs (i.e. a new follow-up time point where the intervention could be applied). The main advantages are as follows: (a) it allows the estimation of an average effect across time points, thus increasing generalisability; (b) it can be more efficient than a parallel arm trial due to increased sample size; and (c) it allows subgroup analyses to estimate effectiveness at different time points. We present a case study where the re-randomisation design is used in a SWAT.

RESULTS: In our case study, the host trial is a dental trial with two available follow-up points. The Sticker SWAT tests whether adding the trial logo's sticker to the questionnaire's envelope will result in a higher response rate compared with not adding the sticker. The primary outcome is the response rate to postal questionnaires. The re-randomisation design could double the available sample size compared to a parallel arm trial, resulting in the ability to detect an effect size around 28% smaller.

CONCLUSION: The re-randomisation design can increase the efficiency and generalisability of SWATs for trials with multiple follow-up time points.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)299
Number of pages8
Issue number1
Early online date29 Apr 2023
Publication statusPublished - 29 Apr 2023


  • Trials
  • Trial methodology
  • Re-randomisation
  • Retention
  • SWAT (study within a trial)


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