Randomized Controlled Trial
Establish causal effects with randomized controlled trials
The key reason for being able to produce causal effects in randomized controlled trials lies in the random selection and random assignment of study participants. All similarities and differences between treatment groups are assumed to exist by chance when randomization is utilized. Randomization removes selection and observation biases that plague the validity of evidence yielded in observational designs. Confounding variables, both measured and unmeasured, are also accounted for with the use of randomization in randomized controlled trials.
It is also important to analyze research data using an "intention-to-treat" approach when conducting a randomized controlled trial. Intention-to-treat means that all study participants should be analyzed in the groups to which they were originally assigned before conducting the trial. The reason for intention-to-treat is to remove any biasing or skewing of study results as participants leave the study or are lost to follow-up. If these individuals are not accounted for in the analysis, then the results may show a significant effect exists when it actually does not. The individuals that leave or are lost to follow-up may have some demographic, prognostic, or predicting characteristics that led to them being lost and these variables must be accounted for in the analysis in order to establish a reliable and valid causal association.
Randomized controlled trials are considered the "gold standard" experimental design
Necessary methodological parts of a randomized controlled trial
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