Unequal sample sizes and the use of larger control groups pertaining to power of a study

Dstl 1 (1) (2016)
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To date researchers planning experiments have always lived by the mantra that 'using equal sample sizes gives the best results' and although unequal groups are also used in experimentation, it is not the preferred method of many and indeed actively discouraged in literature. However, during live study planning there are other considerations that we must take into account such as availability of study participants, statistical power and, indeed, the cost of the study. These can all make allocating equal sample sizes difficult, and sometimes near impossible. This, some might say, means that the study would not adhere to rigorous statistical standard (Rosenbaum and Rubin, 1985). However, here we present evidence that, not only is this a false assumption, but that we may actually gain more power in the study by actually using unequal groups. Here, data from a Sepsis Biomarker study is used, in which the aim is to predict, by biomarker level and presence, whether the patient would go on to develop sepsis. It was found that larger control groups may give more power to studies looking for an effect in the mid range but not for large or small effects. This study shows merit in the hypothesis that more power can be achieved when a larger control group is used. Published by the Ministry of Defence at dstl - Reference DSTLTR92592 P2PP2R-2016-02-23T13:39:45
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