What is meant by intention to treat analysis? Survey of published randomised controlled trials

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Language/s: English
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Short Description:

Results of a survey to document the meaning of ‘intention to treat’ analysis.

Key Concepts addressed:


Key messages

  • Intention to treat gives a pragmatic estimate of the benefit of a change in treatment policy rather than of potential benefit in patients who receive treatment exactly as planned
  • Full application of intention to treat is possible only when complete outcome data are available for all randomised subjects
  • About half of all published reports of randomised controlled trials stated that intention to treat was used, but handling of deviations from randomised allocation varied widely
  • Many trials had some missing data on the primary outcome variable, and methods used to deal with this were generally inadequate, potentially leading to bias
  • Intention to treat analyses are often inadequately described and inadequately applied