Application of methods for central statistical monitoring in clinical trials

Clin Trials: October 1, 2013

Background On-site source data verification is a common and expensive activity, with little evidence that it is worthwhile. Central statistical monitoring (CSM) is a cheaper alternative, where data checks are performed by the coordinating centre, avoiding the need to visit all sites. Several publications have suggested methods for CSM; however, few have described their use in real trials.

Methods R-programs were created to check data at either the subject level (7 tests within 3 programs) or site level (9 tests within 8 programs) using previously described methods or new ones we developed. These aimed to find possible data errors such as outliers, incorrect dates, or anomalous data patterns; digit preference, values too close or too far from the means, unusual correlation structures, extreme variances which may indicate fraud or procedural errors and under-reporting of adverse events. The methods were applied to three trials, one of which had closed and has been published, one in follow-up, and a third to which fabricated data were added. We examined how well the methods work, discussing their strengths and limitations. Read more